main content starts hereDraper Career Day at UAlbany

| March 22, 2019

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You probably never thought about meteorologists being integral to the success of emerging technologies like drones or self-driving cars. It turns out, they are.

Draper Middle School students found that out when they got the chance to talk to one of those cutting-edge meteorologists as part of Career Day on Thursday, March 21. Meghan Conway was one of more than 20 professionals who spent the morning with the eighth graders highlighting career opportunities in diverse fields including business, science, skilled trades, medicine, law enforcement, military service, social work, education, engineering and the arts.

Conway — who earned a master’s degree in meteorology from UAlbany and works at TruWeather analyzing micro-scale weather data for her firm’s clients — helped students interested in STEM understand that a career in meteorology is not limited to forecasting the weather on television.

“Think about the new self-driving cars,” Conway told the students. “For these cars to operate the way they should, you want to know if there is snow or ice ahead so the car knows how to respond. Private sector meteorologists are responsible for this kind of important data.”

This year’s Career Day was held at the University at Albany in the state-of-the-art Massry Center for Business.

The nearly 175 students who attended began the morning with an inspiring keynote address from Mike Saccocio, Executive Director of the City Mission of Schenectady. After that, they were able to choose four half-hour sessions to learn more about careers they are interested in.

“We have traditionally hosted Career Day at Schenectady County Community College,” said Draper Middle School counselor Deb Wood. “This year, we wanted to expose our students to a four-year college atmosphere. We want our students to know that these higher education opportunities are right here, so close to home.”

The students took turns hearing the guest speakers talk about what they do in a typical work day and find out what kind of educational path they took to their current jobs. At each session, the eighth graders took notes and asked questions of the presenters.

The Draper Career Day 2019 speakers included:

  • Elementary Teacher:¬† Laurie Dennis, Bradt Elementary School
  • Executive Chef: Demetrios Menagias, City Beer Hall
  • Police Officer: Mike Rumbaugh, Rotterdam Police Department
  • Welding/Plumbing: Richard¬† Fazio, Fine Line Plumbing & Vic Fazio, Vic’s Roll Off
  • Civil Engineer: Dan Dennis, PE, NYS Department of Transportation
  • Scientist/Meteorologist: Meghan Conway, TruWeather Solutions
  • Military/Armed Forces: Scott Hays, Army National Guard
  • Medical Profession: Jamie Brock, Capital Care Medical Group
  • Social Worker: Diane Blinn, Mohonasen High School
  • Crime Scene Investigator/State Trooper: Mark Cepiel, New York State Police
  • Architect/Interior Design: William Preskenis & Ashley Sheehan, CS Arch
  • Music Industry: Mendy Varga, Kendor Music
  • Veterinarian: Dr. Beverly Blinn-Knapp, DVM, Burnt-Hills Veterinary Hospital
  • CEO/Real Estate: Glenn & Amber Schworm, Signature Home Buyers
  • 911 Dispatcher/Director: Kevin Spawn, Schenectady County Unified Communications
  • Graphic Design/Special Effects: Sam Margolius, Branch VFX
  • Journalist/Reporter: Jeff Wilkin, Daily Gazette
  • Finance: Gretchen Meyer-Thornton, Gretchen Meyer Financial
  • Keynote Speaker: Mike Saccocio, Executive Director of the City Mission of Schenectady

Civil Engineer Daniel Dennis, who works with the design and evaluation of concrete used in bridges, not only shared details of his career with the New York State Department of Transportation, he traced his educational path from Mohonasen High School’s Class of 1993 to Hudson Valley Community College and eventually to Union College.

“Hudson Valley is unique in that it allowed me to enroll in what is called a 2-plus-2 program, with two years at HVCC and two years at Union,” said Dennis. “Starting at a community college is a great way to save a little money.”

Dennis also showed students some the documents he still has from his days at Mohonasen, which included a copy of a career-interest survey he took in the early 1990s at school.

“I took this survey when I was a teenager to see what career might suit my interests best and the results actually said structural engineering. And here I am today,” said Dennis. “That’s why I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities, like Career Day, so you can pursue what is right for you.”

Social worker Diane Blinn, who works at Mohonasen High School, challenged students to keep an open mind on their career journeys and to not be afraid to step outside of their comfort zones along the way.

“The universe is good,” Blinn told the students. “At one point in my career, I thought I didn’t want to work with kids, that I didn’t like kids. And here I am 29 years later and I LOVE MY JOB. I had to step outside my comfort zone to discover a job where every day I look forward to going to work.

“That’s what I want for each of you,” said Blinn.

Thank you to all of our Draper Career Day volunteers and to our Draper faculty and staff who helped organize this year’s event. #MohonProud

View more photos from Career Day on the district’s Facebook page.