NORTH AUGUSTA --- The message to pupils was simple -- work hard, excel in school, find what you love and you will succeed.
About 90 pupils from Paul Knox Middle School stepped out of the classroom Thursday for a business luncheon with professionals who followed that mantra and found success in the fields of science and education.
The school's Careers Lunch and Learn program, which is funded by a grant from Shaw Areva MOX and the Paul Knox PTA, pairs pupils with professionals who share insights on how to succeed in business and in life.
"Once you say what you want to be, that's what you are, you just have to manifest it," Dr. Gerald Oliver, an internal and pediatric physician with Synergic Health Centre, told the pupils. He told them to find a mentor and "go for what you want."
Thursday's event at Misty Woods Club on Ascauga Lake Road was the school's second of the year. The panel included educators, a physician, an author, former journalist and members of industry.
Helen Richard, the career specialist at the school, said the lunches provide for a more personal gathering than a career fair. Pupils were polled about their career interests and speakers were selected based on the results.
About six to seven pupils dined with each speaker and questioned their guests about their levels of education, work regimen and backgrounds and hobbies.
Al Young, a North Augusta High School physical education teacher and basketball coach, started out as a professional football player before becoming an educator. Without hard work in the classroom and on the field, Mr. Young said, he would not be where he is today after his playing career ended.
"You have to have not only dreams, but a goal and a plan of action to make things work," he said.
Taylor Rau, an eighth-grader, said she wants to be a veterinarian, but the program made her realize her career goals might change over time.
School officials said they are hopeful that grant funding will be renewed for next year to continue the program.
Reach J. Scott Trubey at (706) 823-3424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.