NEW BUFFALO — New Buffalo Middle and High School students got advice on everything from fighting fires and building homes to 21st Century farming and working on the railroad during a May 3 Career Day.
New Buffalo Township Fire Department Captain Joe Dyniewski said he became a firefighter after being involved in a serious car accident about 20 years ago which he probably would not have survived if not for volunteer firemen.
“I was one of the few people who made it back to thank the fireman, the EMS — the people who had cut me out of the vehicle. When I did that I was really surprised to hear from them that nobody ever comes back and thanks the firemen,” he said.
Dyniewski added that after 19 years as a volunteer with fire departments he learned it is indeed rare for people to come back and say thank you.
“You don’t do it for thanks, you do it because you care about the community and hopefully can make an impact on somebody’s life.”
Volunteer firemen (and brothers) Noah and Joe Sharum are both graduates of an area fire academy they attended while going to New Buffalo HIgh School.
Noah said his father and brother were already firemen when he was deciding what classes to take his senior year at NBHS. He chose the high school firefighting program — a CTE class that includes credits.
“When I went through the fire academy I also gained a science and a math credit toward my senior year.”
Noah said it takes about 260 to 280 hours over nine months to complete fire training I and II.
“It seems like a lot, but it’s just like what you’re doing here. Every day you come to school,” he told a classroom filled with MIddle School students.
Joe Sharum talked about the 12-station practical portion that follows the classroom portion of the academy.
“You have to do each station … how do you lay out a hose? or how do you hookup to a truck (also put on an air pack, operate a master stream hose) stuff like that, as well as a 200-question state test.”
Joe said passing the state test four years ago was the equivalent of 12 credits to a lot of colleges (he got 12 credits applied to science at Southwester Michigan College).
Joe said he and Hunter Giannetti (also on the New Buffalo Township Fire Department) were the “Guinea Pigs” for New Buffalo students participating in the fire academy held in Berrien Springs at the Oronoko Fire Station.
“It was nice to get away from regular school for a bit and do something I enjoyed,” he said. “Honestly I’d do it again if they told me to … It was a lot of fun.”
Katie Bursma, a 2012 New Buffalo graduate, is now has a BSN (Bachelor of Science Nursing) and is an RN (Registered Nurse).
Bursma said she got her nursing degree from the Kirkhof College of Nursing at Grand Valley State University and participated in the nurse residency program at Mercy Health St. Mary’s (in Grand Rapids), worked in the emergency room and now is in outpatient internal medicine.
She said the students she talked to on Career Day seemed quite interested in what she does.
“They are curious about everything — they want to know what EKG’s look like and are they OK with this EKG or are they in big trouble wit this EKG? “
They also were interested in information about medications and the math a nurse has to do.
“They liked looking at the stethoscope I brought in and they wanted to listen to each other’s hearts,” Bursma said.
She told a group of high school students “Yesterday I helped a doctor tap a knee and get fluid off it.”
Other common procedures include skin biopsies and strep tests.
Bursma plans to go back to school for a master’s degree (three years) so she can become a nurse practitioner.
Also presenting on Career Day were New Buffalo Area Schools Resource Officers Mike Cluster of the New Buffalo Police Department (Middle and High School) and Deputy Michael Troup from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department (Elementary School).
Troop said police officers see the bad and the good every single day.
They talked about many aspects of their jobs including encounters with raccoons, bats and other wildlife.
Pano Arvanitis (as of May 6 the new business manager for the New Buffalo Area Schools) talked about his experience in investment banking at the Chicago Board of Trade and running a finance company (Raven Trading Co.) and the mortgage company (CME Lending) he started with people he knew from the trading floor on Career Day.
Arvanitis said he had a lot of good questions from his first group regarding international business and if there are careers in that area.
“That’s probably one of the biggest growing fields in finance right now,” he said.
Arvanitis said he will work with retiring NBAS Business Manager Dan Coffman until September, when Coffman retires after 12 years with the district.
“I’m very fortunate that he’s going to stick around … I look forward to learning a lot from him.”
Rich Knoll talked about the challenges and benefits of (literally) working on the railroad (in his case construction for CSX ).
He said benefits include three-day weekends, a daily per diem for meals of about $50, and an excellent retirement plan.
A major challenge is being on the road while working.
“It’s hard sometimes if you have a family … you miss them.”
Candy Van Buskirk, Michigan CIty HIgh School Principal and a former teacher at New Buffalo, talked about women in leadership and said she has “the best job.”
Van Buskirk was asked if she knew all her students, and said she knows most of them.
“It’s so important that I know my students because as students and even as the teacher, as the leader, I’m only going to do something and be engaged if somebody cares about me, right? So if I don’t know and care about my students and I have these opportunities for my students, why are they going to take advantage of those opportunities if they don’ feel like I care about them.”
Career Day opened with a keynote speech by attorney Nancy Temple of the Chicago firm Katten Temple (a University of Illinois classmate of High School teacher Lisa Mollison).
She talked about the types if cases her firm handles involving contracts and giving clients advice.
“Most of what I spend my time doing is called litigation … litigation is about the process of getting all the information from people, witnesses, and documents about your case,” Temple said.
She said Katten Temple deals with civil litigation in which most cases are about money versus criminal litigation which is about whether someone committed a crime or not. In many civil cases she is eight representing a person being sued or a person person suing someone else.
Temple told of a case where a small of stature college student went to a party with his cousin who was a football player. A fight broke out involving the cousin and other football players, and someone was injured and required surgery.
An ensuing lawsuit sought $100,000 from the smaller student, who was not involved in the fight.
“So I came in and defended him so he wouldn’t have to pay any money just because he ended up at a party where there was a fight.”
Temple said she also represented former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon in a case involving a now defunct bank he served on the board of directors for.
She also told of her experience working as an in-house attorney for the accounting firm Arthur Andersen when one of its clients, Enron Corp., which went bankrupt in 2001 after being untruthful about its finances. The accounting firm (including Temple) was caught up in the controversy and she was fired in 2002 (Arthur Andersen went out of business in 2002).
Temple said allegations that she was involved in the destruction of documents related to Enron were untrue (at one point she testified before Congress), and she began to take cases from friends before starting her own practice in Chicago.
“I love being a lawyer, I like winning cases, I like helping clients, so that’s what I continue to do.”
Temple had originally planned to go into accounting, but said her accounting professor at Illinois advised her to apply to Harvard Law School and wrote her a letter of recommendation.
“The only reason I applied was because I had a teacher who told me ‘you should go to law school and you need to apply to Harvard.’”
After Harvard Temple said she worked for the same law firm Barack and Michelle Obama did before going to Arthur Anderson.
Temple urged the students in attendance on May 3 to listen to the “adults in your life” such as teachers, parents, and people in different professions when making career decisions.