Senior Experience 2019
There's nothing like a week "on the job" to give students a real-world feel for the careers they're interested in.
Hands-on, experiential learning is the trend in education today, but Dock has been embracing the concept of hands-on learning for years, and one of the best examples is Senior Experience, where seniors spend a week outside the classroom, in the field, job shadowing in careers they may be interested in pursuing, or learning how to serve others.
Sometimes the experiences confirm students' vocational interests—and sometimes it sends them running in the other direction. In all cases, though, the experiences are valuable.
Brooke Bozarth ► Doylestown Hospital
I always knew that I wanted to become a nurse practitioner. I didn’t know what I was going to experience, so I was trying to keep an open mind. The last day I shadowed, I went into the ICU. I was scared and didn’t know what to expect. I have a fear of seeing someone die, and I don’t think I am ready to see something like that anytime soon.
The first patient we saw had come in the night before due to an overdose. He came into the hospital acting crazy and being really aggressive. Seeing how bad his condition was, I never want to see anyone I know be in that same position.
Another thing I saw today was someone that had a stroke while they were in the hospital. I learned that if a patient is seen three hours after they have a stroke, they can get a drug that will reduce the side effects and help them make a faster recovery. I thought this was amazing, and it shows the importance of getting to the hospital right away.
I feel like I am truly blessed to have had this opportunity in my senior year to shadow different people in the hospital to help me figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I have determined that I want to be a trauma nurse. I love the thrill of being in the hospital and having different things happen every day.
I felt accomplished when I was able to speak to a patient and make him smile and be happy. The doctors told him they didn’t expect him to live more than three months. This has been really hard on him and his family because they weren’t expecting the news at all. I got to talk to him about what I was planning to do next year, and it made him really happy because he said I reminded him of his niece.
► Aark Wildlife Rehabilitation
The neatest thing I did today was help with the Red-tailed Hawks. To clean the cages, I needed one of the regular works to come out and hold the hawk. The young lady told me about her college experience and desire to work with animals. She then handed me the falconry gloves and showed me how to grab and hold the hawks. She showed me how to determine if the bird was healthy, where and how to look for a broken wing, and how to properly feed them. It was so awesome, they are such beautiful creatures.
I’ve been really excited to go on Senior Experience ever since my sister went when I was a freshman. I’ve known what I wanted to do for awhile now. Being able to volunteer at the Aark means a great deal to me. I love animals and nature, and I am interested in many aspects of agriculture.
Ashley Mellinger ► Acute Care Medical Transports
Along with the Social Issues trip, this has been the best ‘field trip’ ever. I loved it all. I know now that I want to be an EMT and then a paramedic, and then a nurse. I am meant to save lives, and this only proved it. This experience also helped my faith. I find myself praying for the patients and employees and their families. I listen. I care. It’s what makes me a great friend, and it will make me a great EMT.
Call me crazy, but just sitting in the ambulance, I knew. With a patient, trying to calm them down, learning about their life or just smiling, I knew. Just sitting in an empty ambulance with a clean sheet on an empty stretcher, staring at supplies, I knew. This is where I belong. Saving lives is what I’m meant to do. Doing something much bigger than myself, that’s my whole life’s purpose. Meeting people where they are, aiding them in their time of need. This experience is just three days, but my whole world has changed. My life plan went from ‘I want to do this’ to, ‘I need to do this.’
► St. Luke’s Hospital, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, Reynolds Restoration
In the hospital I was able to feel satisfaction by helping others and attending to their needs. Though I was only allowed to observe closely, I felt as if I had touched so many lives just with my presence. I felt accomplished on day two when a resident asked me if I want to practice intubating a mannequin, which I was able to accomplish on my first attempt. After this experience, I feel as though I would be able to find happiness in whatever career field I choose.
Each person I shadowed brought something different to the table. I’m glad I chose to do something different every day.
Alexa Kennel ► Care and Share Thrift Shoppes
I began as (Executive Director) Sarah Bergin’s assistant while her paid assistant was out. I counted money, organized paperwork, input data into Excel, copied and cut pamphlets, answered the phone and even organized food. I was interested to learn more about the Care and Share’s inner workings, and I had fun spending time with Mrs. Bergin. There was never a dull moment, and it allowed me a glimpse of what it’s like to do office work.
► Care and Share Thrift Shoppes
In a short period of time I felt a strong connection to the Mennonite community. It made me think more deeply about the word ‘community.’ Many colleges I applied to asked about my role in community. Now I know what I can devote to a family, a community, and a society.
Adam Choi ► Care and Share Thrift Shoppes
The value of my experience was to get out of my comfort zone and become a hard worker. I learned that I was a great organizer, cleaner, and a bit of a technician. I never knew I was that kind of person until I worked at Care and Share. My favorite part was cleaning furniture because it made me feel useful. Another part of the job I liked was testing different electrical devices to see if they work. This was fun because I had the opportunity to use different technologies from the past, like old radios and monitors. I had a great time with it.
Jacob Gordon ► Comcast, The Christian Academy, Thompson BMW, Bergey’s Auto Dealerships
I shadowed my brother (Andrew '11) at The Christian Academy in Brookhaven, PA. I created social media posts for him and sat in on meetings. I learned a lot and I want to go into marketing because of my experience. Selling things, creating brochures and advertisements is fun for me. I could see myself doing this in the future, maybe even at a school. Time will tell. If I did this for the rest of my life, I would be happy. Senior Experience is very helpful, and I am enjoying every minute of it. It is a great experience.
I liked it so much I would want to repeat it over and over. I am just ready to work. I am ready to provide for myself and live the life I want to live. I may or may not go to college, but I will have a job at an auto dealership eventually. I have lots of knowledge and it can be used at a dealership. I already know my passion; I just need to pursue it.
Anna Zanetti ► Ten Thousand Villages
Today I helped the store manager with the inventory for the 2019 spring-summer season. This means that I selected, according to my personal tastes, items to buy and subsequently sell in the store. This has helped me in taking responsibility, because it pushes you to think 360 degrees about what a customer will buy, and how much they will spend. This experience allowed me to understand the enormous responsibility that a manager has, and all the decisions that have to be made. I have also understood that it is very tiring as a job. I understand now why my dad is almost always tired when he comes home from work.
I realized this is the job I want to do in my life. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world. Bonnie was a wonderful person. I learned a lot from her, and she gave me lots of advice. Being a manager is a 360-degree job, full of opportunities and surprises. I can’t wait to become a businesswoman like Bonnie.
Eliza Fraser, Carolina Fraser, La'akea Fujita, Xander Duerksen, Austin Nice
► Habitat for Humanity ReStore
We sorted and priced so many boxes of donations. One thing I noticed is that they had special needs kids helping to put the priced items on the floor. They were all extremely friendly. Eliza and I organized the shelves and one of the special needs kids was unloading some priced items next to us. His name was Tyler. He saw me holding a tissue to my nose and asked me what happened. I said, ‘My nose is bleeding.’ He asked me my name, and then he said, ‘I’m going to pray for you.’ It was so touching, and I was about to tear up. It was one of the highlights of the week.
It’s always good to do something you don’t want to do. I often force myself to do things I don’t want to do as a good practice of self-discipline. I would rather have been birding or working on college applications, but I shouldn’t always have my way. It was good to be a little less pampered for a few days, and helping others is always a good idea. The best part for me was the exercise I got. I walked 30 miles in the four days I volunteered, and burned over 2,200 calories because I tried to take jobs that involved the most walking. I stood most of the time and wasn’t on my phone nearly as much as usual.
If I could do it again, I would definitely get more sleep and eat a good breakfast before each day, because when I didn’t do those things I didn’t have the best experience.
Sydney Breslin ► Allebach Communications
I started my day off getting acquainted with everyone in the office. They told me about their roles and showed me some of the materials they were working on, which was really interesting. I got to look over Utz’s Facebook page and Steak-umm’s Twitter account, which are both run by people at Allebach. The next day I sat in on a teleconference with their client, Mrs. T’s Pierogies, about buying ad space on different media.
This experience was really helpful in affirming my desire to go into the advertising field. The highlight was talking with the digital media coordinator, which helped me figure out exactly what I want to do in the future.
Ryan Kratz ► CHL Systems
After lunch I met with Chad [Clemens '10], an electrical controls engineer. He gave me a brief synopsis of what it looks like to design electrical boxes on the software CHL uses. I was able to see online drawings for the panels, then go with him to the assembly building and see them being built in person.
He was working with the software of a robotic arm that took boxes of chocolate and stacked them on a pallet. We worked on making sure it would drop the boxes at the right places, so that once we had the actual suction head on it, it wouldn’t swing into anything and damage the head. I really enjoyed being able to manually control the arm for a bit, once Chad showed me how to. I would definitely recommend shadowing at CHL for students who want to go into engineering but know what type. I learned that I don’t want to work in electrical engineering, but I was very interested in mechatronics engineering because of the work they do with robots and programming.
Additional Senior Experience Journal Excerpts
Tony Luo ► Indian Creek Foundation
Today I studied the definitions and treatments of common adult mental illnesses. One of the most interesting illnesses is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. This is one of the most common mental disorders, especially survivors of war. There are common reasons for PTSD—car accidents, physical or sexual abuse, or violence. However, people with PTSD usually can’t figure out that they need help. Once PTSD happens, it can’t be completely fixed. People who have experienced trauma will respond differently to everyday stressors, possibly leading to retraumatization.
Zizhuo Liang ► Children’s Hospital
The value of my experience is that it further confirmed the intensity of my passion for medicine. I learned that I am suitable for a career in the medical field, and that is exactly what I want to do in the future. I felt a sense of accomplishment…because this is what I love to do. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of one’s passion.
Camron Good ► Broadcom
These shadow days really reinforced how I felt about myself and what I could see myself doing in the future. I’ve always wanted to be an engineer. I’m a person who enjoys hands-on work and creating things for a bigger purpose.
I get to solve problems by creating things—how cool is that?
Audrey Schweizerhof ► Wildlife Rehab Center
I learned to be unselfish with my time, and to put time and effort toward something other than myself. I felt a sense of accomplishment; I was always looking for a task to do, and I would do it with 100% effort. I got to help vulnerable, injured animals and learn about all types of species. I was allowed to have a hands-on experience. Although I mostly cleaned cages and pens, it never got old. Something new happened each day.
Brody Moyer ► Univest
I felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I got to help out in a model example of someone who was trying to switch a loan. I had to do the math and compare to see if the client would save money switching, or if it would be better for them to keep their current loan. I also felt accomplished when people would explain something to me and I would be able to follow along with what they were saying because of my previous knowledge about the issue. Also, I can use these connections later to get an internship or possibly a job.
Jon Nash ► Project Patch
I woke up at 4 a.m. on New Year’s Day to leave for the airport. My plane left at 7:20 a.m., and I stopped in Chicago for a layover. I got booed for wearing my Eagles hat through Chicago’s airport.
My experience at Project Patch was great. It was cool that I could relate to the guys in the program because I had been in the same program two years earlier. I enjoyed giving back to the community that helped me get my life together and become a more productive citizen of my community. Telling the guys that I had been through the same struggles that they are going through was eye-opening. I never thought I would be in that position. I truly want to go to college to study social work. I believe my calling is to help others that are going through the same things I have gone through.
Troy Vasey ► Pfizer
I was able to meet with someone who walked me through how drugs get approved and become available to us. It can take two years and a half a billion dollars for a drug to come to market. There is a phase called pre-clinical, and this phase is when there is testing on animals. The drug has to be approved by the FDA to move into phase one, where they test healthy males. In phase two, the drug is tested on 30 to 300 people with the disease. Finally, phase three is where they test the drug on up to 3,000 people with the disease. Then the FDA reviews the data and can approve if the drug is safe.
Josh Detweiler ► ExelCom, Bergey’s Chevrolet
It has always been my goal to start and own a business. By shadowing Derek [Loux], it gave me insight into what it’s like to own a business. Derek told me it’s extremely important to know the right people, and to always be on good terms with your past business associates. He stays in communication with former employees and gets business through them. Derek made the point that starting a business will always have ups and downs, but to be successful you have to get back up after falling down.
Grant [Souder ‘16] showed me around the dealership and told me about how he got the job. I found it interesting that he got the job right out of high school. He showed me the process of selling a vehicle, and how they get paid, which is through commission instead of hourly. This can be good and bad, because if you have a slow month you won’t make much money, but if you work hard and develop a good customer base you can make a lot of money. When he started at Bergey’s he was only selling 6-7 cars a month. He has worked at Bergey’s for two and a half years and now sells 11-13 cars per month.
Kasey Cai ► Lijian Pet Hospital
Since there weren’t many people coming on Wednesday, I got to spend time with the patients. There was a poodle in the ICU that gave me a heartbreak. The doctor said that a dog’s ability to bear pain is much greater than humans, so unless they are really hurt, they won’t make any sounds or behave differently. But this poodle was crying so hard that I could tell he was in huge pain. There were many patients in the ICU. I talked to them and pet them softly, trying to make them feel better. That was the moment I told myself that being a veterinarian is what I deeply want in my heart.
I spent most of my day at the beauty department, which is in charge of showering, bathing, and haircutting. Since most Chinese people like to have poodles as their pets, and this kind of dog needs the most haircutting, the beauty department is always busy.
My last task was to help clean the trays under each cage. The smell of dog droppings was horrible, and I accidentally poured some on my shoes. One young vet said that being a vet is not like what people usually see; they also need to do the dirtiest and most tiring jobs. I have some more thinking and reflecting to do after today. My experience has pushed me to think of the distance between reality and the ideal.
Steve Wang ► Dock Mennonite Academy EC-Grade 8 Campus
This has been one of the most valuable experiences of my life. It has taught me the meaning of being a teacher, the skills a teacher needs, and the importance of a teacher. Teaching is not just a job; a teacher is alight to guide students to the correct road, the road they are supposed to be on. Being a teacher does not just mean being a knowledgeable person, but also a person who can play and have fun with kids. As a result, they are more likely to take your classes seriously. I really believe that all the teachers I have met are the gift God gives to me.
Alli Sharkey ► Methacton School District
My Senior Experience and job shadowing both elementary and middle school classrooms was completely eye-opening. I loved the students’ attitudes towards learning and towards each other. The differences between these classes are substantial because of their age difference. I really don’t think I could go wrong with a decision to teach any grade. I would do anything to [teach] first grade because I had such a great first grade teacher, and I would like to influence kids’ lives the same way my first grade teacher influenced mine.
Sam Gingerich ► Schiller and Hersh Associates
I met with Jon Bergey, an electrical engineer. He gave examples of some of the projects he had worked on personally, and demonstrated the AutoCAD program they use to create plans and designs. I was able to meet the other employees of the company—five mechanical engineers, five electrical engineers, and a plumbing and fire prevention specialist. The mechanical engineer I met with had designed the ventilation system at Finneran Pavilion, where the Villanova basketball team plays. I thought it was amazing how such a small company was given this job over much larger engineering companies.
For the rest of the time, I was able to work on AutoCAD myself, and I helped do some easy tasks from real projects she was working on. This made me feel like I was actually part of the company; I got my own desk and everything. I enjoyed working with technology in ways I hadn’t done before.
One final thing I did was to create a floor plan for a section of a building on AutoCAD. I used written notes of the building and pictures taken during a survey to map out the room and everything relevant to electric remodeling—outlets, fans, and speakers. This was almost like a puzzle, and I was scared I would mess it up. Although this kind of work may sound boring to some, I enjoyed it because it involved math and problem-solving.
Michael Chavez ► North Penn Animal Hospital
Today was filled with craziness. The craziest thing was a rabbit with cancer. It had been having a reaction to the chemo it was receiving. Suddenly, a simple appointment to check in became a full-blown emergency. The rabbit’s health spiraled out of control and it was clear it would most likely die. The owner and the vet came to the decision that it would be best to euthanize the rabbit and free it from the pain. It gave me a good idea of how emergency situations are handled.
Another insane visit today was from two massive Retrievers. These dogs just would not sit still. No matter what we tried, they would bark, pull away, and try to bite us. Sonni and I had to double-team and wrestle these dogs so she could cut their nails and administer shots. By the end of the visit I was sore and dripping with sweat. It was like wrestling a full-grown grizzly bear.
The fragility of life is almost incomprehensible, and just thinking about death makes my head spin in circles endlessly. I now feel the impact of a career in the veterinary field would be meaningful, and if I could provide hope in some challenging situations, it would give me purpose.
Julia Rolley ► William Penn Inn
Today was the last day and I got to make something I’ve wanted to learn to make for a long time: macaroons. These were much easier to make than I thought, but you also have to be very precise with measurements.
This was a relaxed, laid back day. I got to see their set-up for brunch and bring desserts, including the cannolis I filled, for customers to eat. That was pretty cool for me to see. I had a great experience in the bakery. Everyone was sweet and very welcoming and patient. However, it did not change my mind about a baking career. Baking is a very time-consuming and precise job, and it requires a lot of standing, which is tiring. So props to chefs/bakers for basically being in pain all day.
Right: Julia Rolley worked with Dock alum Terri Curtis, head pastry chef at the William Penn Inn.
Below: Finishing up a tray of cannoli.