By CHRIS EBERHART
For one day, Eastchester eighth graders thought outside of their textbooks and focused on what their futures might be eight to 10 years down the road.
On Dec. 20, Eastchester Middle School hosted Career Day for the eighth grade in which 11 professionals with careers varying from police officer to business owner to TV host to New York Yankee spoke about taking risks, working hard and finding careers about which students can be passionate.
Josh Elder, principal of Eastchester Middle School, said he wanted the students to use Career Day to ask questions and explore future career choices.
Students began the morning listening to Ereka Vetrini, a graduate of the Eastchester middle and high schools, talk about her unusual career path from finance major at Boston College to an appearance on Donald Trump’s show “The Apprentice” to TV host on Yahoo and Kidspace on HGTV.
She said she started off as an employee for General Electric, but wasn’t happy. She told students her people skills weren’t being utilized. She said her friend tried out for “The Apprentice,” and she decided to take a risk and did the same, and that launched her career in TV.
During her speech, Vetrini gave motivational advice about taking risks and finding jobs and internships that the students are passionate about while painting a realistic picture of the hard work and stress that comes with any career.
“People see a TV host and celebrity reporter and think I interview celebrities and think it’s all glitz and glamor,” Vetrini told the students. “But it’s not. It’s a lot of hard work and anxiety. Last year and this year, I’m working on New Year’s…And I never have job security. As a freelancer, I can be out of a job at any time.”
After Vetrini’s speech, the students went to three sessions, each of which was led by one of the professionals, who told their career story and answered questions from the students.
Teachers Linda Sokol, who, along with Pam Magelowitz, Vicki Tucker and Samantha Schnell, have been organizing Career Day for the past month and a half said the students were guaranteed to listen to two of their top three choices.
The list of professionals was headlined by Vetrini, former New York Yankees catcher and YES Network broadcaster John Flaherty, Eastchester Police Sgt. Rich Flood and Westchester County Police Officer Brian Tier-ney with the county’s bloodhound, Saratoga.
Flaherty, whose niece and nephew attend Eastchester Mid-dle School, spoke to the kids about his playing days with the Yankees and his transition from professional baseball player to broadcaster.
He said, if there was one nugget of wisdom he wants the students to go home with, it was to follow their dreams and ignore the naysayers.
“Whatever their dreams are, they should go out and make it happen,” Flaherty said. “And never listen to the people that say you can’t achieve because I’m living proof that you can.”