Impact Academy

Alumni Mentors Impress Students at Impact Academy

CAMPBELL, Ohio – What does an engineer do each day?

How many career options are there in the medical field? What kind of training does one need to be an electrician?

The Northeast Ohio IMPACT Academy gave students in grades 9 through 11 a chance at a March 2 event to meet people from the local community working in careers of interest to them.

The Impact Academy, in its fourth year of operation at the Community Literacy Workforce and Cultural Center, strives to spark students interested in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. With the first class a year from graduation, Kristin Fox, associate principal, said field trips and speakers are being selected specifically toward career interests.

Invited to the event were 16 Campbell alumni and two additional professionals interested in helping mentor students to make those important decisions. Students had a chance to speak with recent nursing school graduates; a local doctor, who chose to stay here and practice; engineers, including one involved in a Voltage Valley career; as well as beauticians, barbers, a law enforcement officer and entrepreneurs.

Students interested in construction and skilled trades have been watching the latest addition being built onto the school firsthand and Fox said some students are intrigued to learn how much money those working the project can earn. Knowing a four-year degree is not for everyone, Fox said they are making sure students learn about a variety of options, including the trades.

“One of the biggest things we talk about here is being a regional solution and how do we keep people in this Valley and make them want develop and prosper and raise families and stay here,“ Fox said.

The recent graduates talked to the students about how they made their own career choices and how they navigated the training or additional schooling they needed to get there.

In the engineering session, students got a chance to ask questions about the wide variety of engineers, the classes they took to obtain those degrees and how many things they could do down the road. Students asked about salaries, what a day is like in their job and even how an engineering degree can lead to other jobs outside of the engineering field down the road should they change their minds.

Kalliope Zembillas is a planning engineer, who studied chemical engineering, and her sister is a civil engineer. She talked about the flexibility of engineering, saying it is not necessary to choose a path right away.

Her father’s background was in business, while her mother stayed home, but Zembillas knew her personality did not fit into a business. She enjoyed getting an education in math and chemistry and started her college career by studying medicine at Youngstown State University.

“Keep your mind open and not be pressured to pick something right away,” Zembillas said, adding an engineering degree can open doors to many opportunities, both locally and for those interested in traveling or living elsewhere.

George Koulianos, a 2018 Campbell graduate, is about to complete his nursing degree from Youngstown State University. He talked to students about the process to get degrees in nursing, as well as the sacrifice, dedication and focus needed for each of the nursing programs at YSU – from the associate degree to the doctoral program. There are always opportunities to take a career in medicine to another level, he said. Koulianos also discussed the many specialties in medicine.

“Anything in the medical field, whether it’s nursing or becoming a doctor, nothing is easy about it,” Koulianos said. “It’s a lot of hard work. It’s a lot of dedication. Our goal as medical providers and nurses is to give the best care and maintain the safety of the patient and doing what’s best for everyone.”

Today, he explained, jobs and opportunity everywhere. He loves that he can stay here near family, but knows if someone wants to explore other places nurses are needed everywhere.

“There’s doors behind doors behind doors behind doors. It never just stops. You can go anywhere,” Koulianos said. There are so many routes to take – bedside nurses, insurance companies, working with attorneys, public health and safety, and school nurses. “Literally the opportunities are endless.”

His externship was an excellent opportunity, letting him work with doctors and nurses at Mercy Health, where he was exposed to a variety of specialties. A paid externship can lead to a job offer, he said.

Zembillas also told students about how internships can help them narrow down the specialties in the fields engineering. If an internship is a great fit, it can lead to a job down the road, she said.

Koulianos, the first nurse in his immediate family, said meeting with the students was a great opportunity for him to influence students from the school district that set him up for success. He wishes his classmates had the Impact Academy when they were in school.

“I think it absolutely sets up the students for a well-rounded future,” he said. “I never had the opportunity to do this when I was in high school. So to see kids from Campbell, I think it’s awesome.”

Students at the Impact Academy have the opportunity to earn an associate degree before they even leave the school without having to pay for that education. Twenty students are currently taking a speech class online through a partnership between the academy and Stark State. The academy also partners with Eastern Gateway Community College.

The Northeast Ohio Impact Academy is accepting applications until April 2. The school accepts only 50 per grade level and 45 prospective new students from around the area have already applied.  An open house will be held for anyone thinking about this type of opportunity.

“STEM isn’t all just about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, it’s really that collaborative piece and working with and communicating with others,” Fox said. “That’s probably one of the biggest things we’ve heard from business and industry – we can hire somebody, but we can’t teach them those soft skills.”

Students came dressed in their Northeast Ohio Impact Academy polo shirts and Fox said they are encouraging students to look the part because they could meet their future employer at any point.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.