Last week, when I spoke to Citrus Springs Middle School pupils about their futures during Career Awareness Week, I expected them to give the obvious choices.
Some did. But out of the 78 pupils I surveyed, there were only four prospective teachers and six doctors.
I was impressed and surprised by the variety of choices, especially some of the more unusual ones.
There were quite a few hopeful veterinarians and lawyers and a couple of nurses and writers. But there was also an undercover cop, an FBI agent, a race car driver, a rap singer, a marine biologist, a research scientist, and my favorite, a student seeking a career in pyrotechnics.
One pupil wanted to be a pilot, another wanted to play the clarinet in an orchestra, and a third wanted to work in telecommunications. There was an aspirant physical therapist, a chiropractor, a zoologist, an astronaut and a singer.
One young woman had the lofty ambition to be president of the United States.
Still, there were a significant number of pupils in the undecided category (I'm including the two professional skateboarders here), and they are going to need guidance into successful careers they will enjoy.
That was the purpose of Career Awareness Week, during which professionals from many areas came out to the school, set up displays, and talked to the pupils about what they do.
Those who already had an idea about their future had the opportunity to learn about the educational requirements they will need to achieve their goals. Those who simply did not know yet, had a chance to see what's out there.
Crystal River High School sent representatives from their Health Academy who pointed out to the pupils there are many careers in medicine besides being doctors and nurses. They suggested being dentists, nurses aides, laboratory technicians, x-ray technicians, dietitians, and phlebotomists, persons who draw blood.
Also on hand were a race car driver, whom I strongly suspect influenced my budding race car driver just minutes before he came to me, a bank teller, a chef, a respiratory therapist, a physical therapist, a veterinarian, and a crime scene technician. There were representatives from the Marine Science Patrol, Withlacoochee Technical Institute, Florida Power, Proline Boats and the Citrus Springs Fire Department.
Others were professionals in emergency medicine, orthotics and prosthetics, art, nuclear mechanics, and small business.
I asked some of the pupils who had decided on careers, at least for now, why they chose that particular field. Seventh-grader Mike Kish, 14, was the prospective pilot. He likes the idea of flying because "I'm always stuck on the ground. I've never flown on anything. Also, my grandfather was a pilot."
Twelve-year-old Katherine Lange, a seventh-grader, said she has wanted to be a research scientist ever since she was younger, "because there are a lot of people suffering and there are things that they can't help and they die from them."
Tom Caywood, a 13-year-old seventh-grader wants to be a lawyer to help people who are innocent. Also, he added, "My friend's uncles are lawyers and make pretty good money."
Tom's classmate, Tyler Machado, 13, is also interested in law as a public defender. His plans could change though. "I might join the Army," he said, "be like my grandpa, but I kind of like the idea of being a lawyer."