Students further education to prepare for future careers

Virtual Enterprise students attend the Midwest Trade show in Gatlinburg, TN.

Ally Wagner

Virtual Enterprise students attend the Midwest Trade show in Gatlinburg, TN.

With over 230 classes to choose from, students have access to experience a wide variety of fields of study at the high school level. Elective classes range from cooking to ceramics to scuba diving. Taking classes like these could just be a fun way to achieve credits for graduation, but for some, taking classes like these is necessary.

“I started taking business classes my sophomore year because my dad is in the business field,” senior Ally Wagner said. “I ended up really liking it, and I’ve decided that it’s what I want to pursue as a career. I was really intrigued by money, how the economy works and marketing.”

Wagner is the president of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) club.

“Joining FBLA totally sparked my interest in business. Before that, I didn’t really think about it. I joined with a few friends and just got involved. It ended up leading me to be interested in business, and made me want to have a future in it,” Wagner said.

Wagner attended a summer program at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry,  NY and has decided to attend the school for college.

“After attending the program, I realized that it’s all what I want. It’s a small college where the professors really care about you and want you to succeed. They will help me with networking and learning about the different sectors of business, so I will have an advantage over people who attend the average schools,” Wagner said.

Unlike Wagner, students like junior Shanna Bailey have always known what they wanted to do in the future.

“I’ve always had an interest in cameras and taking photos. I remember I got a camera when I was really young and I was so excited, even though back then I would only really take pictures of my dog,” Bailey said.

Bailey plans to major in photography and minor in business so she can take photos for advertising agencies as a career.

“I decided to take [photo] because I know that it’s what I’m doing as a career and I wanted to learn more about it,” Bailey said. “I really like it, Ms. Mangrich has really furthered my education and taught me a lot that I didn’t know. Now I know all about film and taking photos manually  [along with] the elements and principles so I take more photos of things other than just people.”

However, not all career paths are represented in the curriculum West offers, so some students resort to other methods.

“I’m going to Southeast Missouri State University and I’m going to major in mechanical engineering and I’m joining ROTC [Reserve Officers Training Corps] . I want to be an engineer on base in the air force. In middle school, I started reading into career paths and found that I really liked engineering and knowing how things work,” senior Liam Mayse said.

Mayse takes engineering classes everyday through SPARK!.

“SPARK! has given me a good sample of the engineering world,” Mayse said. “Refining my skills, testing myself and delivering a finished product to a happy customer. It’s taught me how to solve complicated issues through small steps.”

However, not all classes set up students for careers. Some are based off of hobbies and interests that students can use as another way to support themselves in their futures. Senior Colin Conway wants to use his talents in orchestra as a side job in the future.

“I’m going to UMSL and I’m majoring in business, but I plan on minoring in something to do with music. I want to teach cello as a side job,” Conway said.

Conway has been in orchestra classes for 10 years.

“Taking orchestra has prepared me to be more than I am right now and strive to be perfect. If I’m not perfect, nobody is going to see a difference in me and how I play,” Conway said.

Wagner, Mayse, Bailey and Conway all can agree that the classes they have taken in high school helped lead them toward a future career path.

“Taking Virtual Enterprise and Accounting really taught me a lot about business and has given me an advantage,” Wagner said. “I now know a lot about business so I’m not going into college without any information. I think in the long run it will end up really benefitting me.”