More than just a job: Students pursue their passions

Audrey Dwyer, In-Depth Editor

Most high schoolers will tell you that they’re not passionate about their highschool job.  Unless said highschooler is the Michelangelo of flipping burgers. However, there’s a lucky minority of students are doing what they love.

Case and point, with RoboThink, a STEM education center, junior Ian Bromfield teaches robotics and coding workshops and classes to elementary schoolers.

   “I’m a pretty big nerd. I think it’s cool– working with robots and coding and seeing how everything unfolds.  It’s very interesting to me– the evolution of robots and coding and how it’s evolved today,” Bromfield said.

Meanwhile, junior Molly Smith worked as an inclusion aide at SEASPAR this summer.  Smith helped highly functioning disabled children integrate into park district summer camps.  For Smith, all of her challenges were worth it if she got to make someone a very happy camper.

“It’s rewarding because you know that you’re making someone happy.  By working there, I’m able to give the child the ability to have a fun summer camp experience.  The reason that I decided to apply is because I used to go to summer camps at the Downers Grove Park District when I was younger.  I wanted to provide these students with that opportunity,” Smith said.

Animal lover interns at Brookfield Zoo

This summer, senior Liz Forassiepi interned at the Brookfield Zoo.  As an assistant roving naturalist, Forassiepi stood outside of animal enclosures and talked to up to 600 people at a time about animals.

“I did not help care for the animals. My job was to use them as a way to educate the public and really get people interested and involved by giving them an up-close encounter.”

   Forassiepi pursued this internship because she is passionate about animals.

   “I’ve always liked animals, ever since I can remember, and I always wanted to do something to save them. There are a lot of things going on in the world that are threatening animals, so this made me feel like I was able to do something to inspire people to love animals the same way I do,” Forassiepi said.

   Forassiepi has volunteered at Brookfield Zoo in the past, but this is her first year interning.  Next year, she will return as a roving naturalist and in the following fall, she plans to study zoology to become a wildlife biologist.

   “When I get my degree, I am hoping to work in the field,” Forassiepi said.  “This would mean studying animals all over the world in their natural habitats. I’m not sure what animals I want to focus on in my future studies, and I don’t really care, because I’ll be happy as long as animals are involved.”

   Forassiepi worked with animals like Checkers, a 4 foot long, 13-year-old corn snake.  Of the seven corn snakes at Brookfield Zoo, Checkers is Forassiepi’s least favorite because he is too wiggly to hold with ease.

   “I was never scared of handling the snakes; snakes have always been one of my favorite animals. I just think they’re adorable,” Forassiepi said.  “A good amount of the guests were scared of the snakes, mostly adults. The kids were always very curious and wanted to learn more! While the snakes were my favorite animals to work with, I also really enjoyed working with our box turtles. We had five of them, and they were always very calm and sweet.”

Photographer captures high-end cars    

   Junior Andrew Thompson is making a career out of his passion for photography.  He works as the photographer at the Perillo Downers Grove Bentley and Lamborghini dealerships.  Here, he takes pictures of cars for the company’s website and social media page. He got the job by chance when he went to a Lamborghini event in Chicago.  

   “It turns out that their photographer actually called in sick.  They saw that I had a camera, so they asked me ‘can you send us a few of your shots to see how they turn out?’ So they liked them.  Earlier this summer, I was contacted by the same guy. He offered me a part-time position over the summer at the dealership,” Thompson said.

   At the time, Thompson wasn’t looking for a job in photography, but he is interested in pursuing it professionally.  In addition to taking pictures for Lamborghini, Thompson also takes portraits of people and is planning on taking pictures for homecoming.  Thompson jumps at the opportunity to share his talents with others.

   “I’m generally not much of a show-off kind of guy.  I’m proud of what I do. I like to see how people react when I show them pictures because they’re generally very happy about it.  It makes me happy to see that my work is making other people feel good.”

   Thompson has had a passion for cars and photographing them since a young age.  By working at Lamborghini and making his passion for art into a career, Thompson has learned about accountability.  

   “It also teaches you to have fun no matter what you’re doing.  Obviously, it’s something I’m passionate about but when I’m working, there’s a level of stress that comes with it,”  Thompson said. “I do this for fun but I have to do it the way that they want me to do it. So, I’ve learned that you have to take advantage of every opportunity that comes at you and make the best out of everything.”

Students struggle to balance work and school

Students are told from day one that colleges look for involvement in extracurriculars and strong grades.  But some students also have to pay for college- and gas, and insurance, and violin lessons, and frappuccinos.  But with a rigorous work schedule, there are not enough hours in the day to maintain a 4.0 GPA and compete in a varsity sport.  This is where students arrive at catch 22.  How can one balance work and school?

According to an Omega Twitter poll, 50 percent of 8 respondents* say that they struggle to balance school and work.  But for some, quitting their job is not an option, 29 percent of the 7 respondents* to the same poll said that they got a job to help pay for college, while 14 percent said they got a job to help their family.  Senior Krista Sullivan is apart of the 14 percent.  She got a job at Noodle and Co. in order to help pay for her car insurance.  However, her work makes studying difficult. 

 “I worked the weekend before finals so it was super hard to find time to study.  I got home from work and I was exhausted. I would work late at night and during the day I was just too tired to think about studying,” Sullivan said.

In fact, 62 percent of 13 respondents* to the same poll say that they been unable to complete homework because your job made you too tired/busy.  Senior Aleena Albert, has tried to find a way to complete her homework and still balance her job with Chicago Trivia Guys, at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, and as a tutor. 

“You have to be okay with being tired all the time and the you just have to keep going,” Albert said.  “If a teacher is talking and you know what’s happening, that’s when you get your homework done. If you get home and you have 5 minutes, you do as much as you can. You have to always think positive.”


*Due to the new parameters put in place by the Board of Education concerning school-wide polls, the Omega was unable to collect more data.  To learn more about the Omega’s fight against censorship check out this article