One of the primary goals of any Catholic school centers on vocation. “We know and believe that all of our students have a God-given, God-planned vocation, and our job is to help students discern and move toward that plan,” said Andrew Iliff, principal of St. John Paul II Catholic High School. “We already have a great counselor, Dr. Sherry Garrett, and she works tirelessly with our students and parents on a wide variety of fronts: college selection and application, social and emotional counseling, course selection, and college readiness. This year, we want to support and build our program further,” added Iliff.
This has come through a series of panel discussions, bringing area professionals and role models to share with students their progression toward their vocations. “So far we have had a wide variety of people and vocations represented, and our second panel was really exciting and inspiring,” commented Dr. Garrett.
The next part of this effort will come in the second and third quarter of the year in U.S. History class. Every student will be required to schedule and complete a “shadow day” with an area professional, business owner, public servant — in short, someone working in a vocation they would like to explore. The writing assignment that follows will help the student process what they learned from that time in the field.
The second panel was titled, “Women in Science” and was comprised of five amazing women. First was Col. Laura L. Feider, Ph.D., RN, who spoke to the students of her adventures of saving lives in forward combat zones in Afghanistan.
The second panel member was Elizabeth Haynes. She discussed with the students the satisfaction of working with homeowners to put their vision on paper.
The third panel member was Dr. Dana Garcia, who studied Zoology at Texas A&M University and earned a Doctorate in Physiology/Cell Biology from University of California at Berkeley. She now teaches multiple courses at Texas State University.
The fourth panel member was Dr. Elaine Gwosdz-Gilman. She worked for three years in Molecular Biology research at Baylor University and went on to Medical School at UT Health Science Center. She shared the stressful moment of leading a team and saving her first life three days into being a doctor.
The panel was anchored by Col. Eileen Collins. She shared with the students about being patient in waiting for policies to change so she could work in her dream job as an astronaut. Her claim to fame is being launched into space four times. She shared about a typical day in space and the work involved.
All of these amazing women shared wisdom and guidance with the students that was priceless. John Paul II Catholic High School plans to have one more panel this year, and will continue to work these events into their curriculum to aid their students in finding where their gifts meet the world’s needs.