Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES News Article

WEMOCO students explore scientific careers through virtual fair

A dozen industry professionals presented to students in three of Career and Technical Education programs at WEMOCO during a Virtual Scientific Career Exploration on October 29, 2020.

More than 30 high school students from the Dental Assisting, Phlebotomy and Laboratory Science and Exercise Science programs participated in the virtual event to learn about a variety of careers.

“We wanted to bring together industry professionals from several important but overlooked career fields to help our students expand their knowledge of what is possible for them to strive for when they graduate,” said WEMOCO Phlebotomy and Laboratory Science Teacher Jim Payne, who organized the virtual event.

The event was conducted via Zoom technology in which the guest speakers rotated though six breakout rooms to present to students. By the end of the hour and a half event, the students had explored three major local scientific industries (medical laboratory, biotechnology laboratory and food production laboratory). Among the topics students learned were food production development and quality, toxicology, vaccine development, different kinds of blood testing, blood banking, medical laboratory jobs, biotechnology, and research laboratory work. Students also learned about workplace skills.

Thank you to our guest presenters:
  • Christopher Wendtland, biotechnology professor at Monroe Community College
  • Greg Sharpe, food production professor at Genesee Community College
  • Jeffrey Bemis, biotechnology researcher at Litron Labs
  • JoAnn Christensen, blood banking scientist with the American Red Cross
  • Maria Scrivens, biotechnology researcher with Vaccinex
  • Megan Myers-Kelly, Lidestri Food & Drink
  • Melissa Allen, clinical laboratory scientist with URMC Labs
  • Lauren Brooks, medical microbiologist with Nazareth College
  • Summer Killian, clinical laboratory scientist with Thompson Health Labs
  • Lou Lotta, research laboratory technician with URMC Janelsins Lab 
  • Earl Bartz, clinical laboratory scientist with Rochester Regional Health Medical Labs
“All of these industries are looking for qualified skilled individuals and currently do not have enough staff to fully meet their needs,” Payne said. “The WEMOCO Phlebotomy and Laboratory Science program directly prepares high school students to work directly in these industries and helps students know what major to take in college, if that route is the direction they want to go.”

Payne said he anticipates offering the virtual event again as an opportunity for more of WEMOCO’s students to learn about laboratory careers. Students who participated in the virtual career fair had positive things to say.

“The career fair was great. I really liked that it showed me more careers that I haven’t heard about before and let me research more in depth to the ones that first caught my attention,” said Jordan Bykowicz (Churchville-Chili). “Professor Lauren Brooks in the career fair helped me see that it was a good choice. She talked about an internship at Nazareth that goes for a couple months and then you are almost guaranteed a job in the lab. The second portion of actually researching the careers was super helpful because I could learn about the pay as well.”
Ava Franklin (Kendall) said, “I thought the career fair was very helpful and informative about the different science careers available. The fair has helped me confirm my laboratory-based career, but has also shown me to think a little smaller and less general because of all the options available in the field of science.”
Caridad Cassady (Spencerport), added, “One benefit of the laboratory career fair is the opportunity to build relationships with prospective employers. Many teens don't know what they want to do when their older, but attending at least one of these seminars can focus a student's job search efforts or give them the chance to explore alternate employment avenues.”

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