Eddie Gaeddert, a junior at Goessel High School, dreams of being a scientist. Thursday, he was able to meet and listen to the career journey of a bioengineering researcher during the Goessel High School career day.
After Evan Janzen, said bioengineering researcher, was done speaking, Gaeddert made certain to get a handshake and offer his gratitude.
"Hearing you was [incredible]," Gaeddert said.
Janzen, a 2006 graduate of Goessel High School, made a trip from California to be part of a new kind of career day at the school.
The rarity of the opportunity afforded to GHS students Thursday was not lost on Janzen and was a big part of the reason he made the trip from California to be part of the day.
"I did not know any scientists when I was in high school and did not know what it was like to be a scientist," Janzen said. "I felt like I kind of owed it to the community a little bit, and to my high school, to share a little bit of what it is like and the journey. It is something you don't see very often."
The birth of his sister's child helped draw him to Goessel.
He talked about his involvement with a project in astrobiology and work connected to a Mars rover being launched next year.
He also spoke about the journey — his time in college and educational experiences. He will finish a doctorate degree next year. His hope, he said, is to run his own laboratory at a university.
"Don't think of your career as something that you have to get to, and when you get there, you have made it. You should find what you enjoy, enjoy what you do and if that changes, follow that and see where that gets you," Janzen said.
The career day was performed in a new format this year. In the past, the school has invited members of the community to come for a career fair — setting up tables and booths to speak with students about different career paths.
This year, however, the school alumni director invited alumni to come and give presentations throughout the day about their careers and how they found their career paths.
"It did not take long to get 10 alumni who wanted to come back and be part of this,'' said Ilona Abrahams, alumni director. "We thought 10, for our size as a small school, was a good number for this. ... I have gone to all of them, except two, and I am excited about what they are coming back with and telling the kids. It has been fantastic."
She found 10 who were able to come. Most came from around the state, with Janzen being the most well-traveled presenter for the day.
Others from out of state were willing to be part of the day, though most of whom organizers spoke to ended up with conflicts.
"We had others who said they would Skype with us if we needed more," Abrahams said. "We had other possibilities from outside of the state."
Careers represented included bioengineering, law enforcement, sports information, counseling, computer programming, nonprofit management, exercise specialist, social work and design engineering.