A day in the life: RSS students shadow industry pros

Published 12:10 am Sunday, February 5, 2023

Classrooms come in all shapes and sizes, and on job shadow day, Rowan-Salisbury Schools students took their learning into the field.

The job shadow event placed hundreds of juniors and seniors into organizations, businesses and departments around Rowan County on Thursday for a first-hand glimpse at various professions. For many, it was a way to learn more about the fields they hope to make careers one day.

South Rowan High School junior Chase Grimes has known he wanted to be a veterinarian since visiting a friend’s farm, where he observed cattle herding. 

“I started to do my research in the animal sciences field,” Grimes said. “I took animal science one my freshman year. I got to do sheep showing and loved working with them. I figured it was a field I might want to go into.”

While shadowing employees at Ranchside Vets, Grimes learned about what yeast and blood looked like under a microscope and observed a surgery.

“I got to observe what they call a cherry eye,” Grimes said. “The tear duct had swollen up, so he had to make two incisions around the eyes and tuck it back in.”

Meanwhile, fellow South Rowan High student Emily Wing observed a surgery in which a dog was neutered. It didn’t unsettle her. It was encouraging for her. 

“I am really interested in this field and was hoping to get a little more experience and learn a bit before I stick my foot in the door,” Wing said of the job shadow event. 

Riding that momentum, Wing indicated that she would fill out a resumé later that day.

Ranchside Vet officer manager Laura McDaniel remarked that the students asked many questions about how to make their ambitions of becoming veterinarians a reality. 

“The student we are talking with right now plans on applying to vet school, so he is talking with Dr. Cole Annas about the ins and outs so he can work on what he needs to do,” McDaniel said. “We also discussed possible internships to get hands-on experience with animals.”

Leaving their mark

Multiple students attended Touch of Grey Tattoo & Piercing Studio to learn about those crafts. 

“We taught them how to make stencils and how to apply the stencils as well as proper clean up and sanitizing everything,” said Molly Cranford, a manager at Touch of Grey.  

Cranford printed out a basic flash sheet with tattoos for the students to practice their handiwork, but becoming a tattoo artist takes more than being able to draw.

“It’s many art forms in one,” Cranford said. “It’s medical too because you have to know the skin, the thickness, how the color takes, color theory and everything.”

They lightly covered those items on Thursday.

“It’s a lot to throw at them all in one day,” Cranford said. “We taught them the basic stuff. We want them to get their foot in the water to know what they might encounter if they make this a career.”

East Rowan High senior Carmella Raiti was one of the students who got to use the tattoo machine and practice on a material designed to simulate human skin. Raiti knew she wanted to go to a tattoo parlor on job shadow day, and since she had been to Touch of Grey for piercings, she was not in uncharted territory. 

“I have been here a few times, and I have always loved the experience,” Raiti said.  

Raiti plans to attend the University of North Carolina Asheville in the fall to double major in art and business, potentially paving the way for her to work in a parlor one day.  

“Since that is a path I want to take, I figured why not try it as soon as I can,” Raiti said. 

Although the skin was fake, the tattoo machine she used was real. 

“The gun is a little heavier than a regular pencil, so it was hard to get used to at first, but once I did, it was fun,” Raiti said.

Answering the call

Not long into Carson High School student Hayley Wheeler’s visit to Spencer Fire Department, the crew was dispatched on a call. 

Spencer Fire Chief Michael Lanning knew it was always a possibility. It ended up being a case of someone falling and not being able to get up. 

The message that came from that trip was something Lanning indicated is better conveyed through experience than instruction. 

“Whether you’re picking Grandma up at 3 in the morning because she fell or you are showing up, and there is fire blowing out of the window, and you are trying to save someone’s property, our job is about truly having pride in what you are doing and being there to serve the citizens and meet them on their level,” Lanning said. “The biggest thing, and one that is common with anyone in public safety, is to have a servant’s heart.”

“To some people, it may simply be a paycheck, but we try to instill pride in every aspect of the job,” he said. 

Thursday was Lanning’s first job shadow day. He didn’t need one. Lanning knew he wanted to be a firefighter as a kid. He is a fourth-generation fireman. 

“From the time I knew what a fire truck was, I knew what I wanted to do,” Lanning said. 

Not everyone gets that first-hand look, but because of the job shadow day, Wheeler was able to. 

She admitted that when the call came out, she was “lost” and wasn’t sure what to do, but she stayed focused and watched as the scene played out. 

Wheeler hopes to pass the firefighter course at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and then try to get into her first official firehouse. 

Thanks to her trip to Spencer Fire Department, she will be more ready now than ever before.