Representing an impressive diversity of professions, twenty central Illinois professionals visited Rolling Acres Middle School this week for Career Day. Students heard from a sports reporter and college athletic marketing professional, a hair stylist and tattoo artist, a neuroscientist and an x-ray technician, a school psychologist, police officer and fire fighter, numerous engineers, a mortician and the owner of a septic system company.
The day ended with a visit by retired major league baseball pitcher Brian Shouse.
Keeping up with technological advances and being open to changes in professional direction are almost guaranteed for 21st century workers. Caterpillar Inc. mechanical engineer Dave Frager began his career as a computer scientist at a time when that meant working with stacks of punch cards. “Your cell phone has more power, storage and memory that the computer I used in college 30 years ago,” he told students.
Shannon Egli, a neuroscientist with Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center, showed students models of the human spine and a cadaver heart, as he described his work.
Retired detective Dave Hoyle told about crimes solved and arrests made while working undercover while Air Force recruiter Stephen Graves gave students a close-up look at his military vehicle.
After rotating through speakers during the morning, students gathered in the gym to hear Brian Shouse, a Bradley Braves Hall of Famer, talk about his professional baseball career. A native of Effingham, Illinois, Shouse played baseball for Bradley University from 1987 to 1990 before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. In addition to the Pirates, throughout his career Shouse played for the Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays before retiring in 2010. He has continued to coach.
Like Frager transitioning from computer science to mechanical engineering, Shouse told the students about the need to reinvent himself midway through his career. A left-handed pitcher, in 2002 he changed his pitching style from a traditional overhand pitch to a sidearm delivery. The change led to his most successful major league years.
Shouse spent part of his presentation answering questions from students. “Who taught you how to pitch?” asked one student. “A lot of it was my dad in the backyard,” he told students. “He spent hours working with me. He stuffed an old catcher’s mitt with rags to pad it so he wouldn’t hurt his hand. I learned more than how to pitch. I learned about the importance of work ethic and it gave me the desire to succeed and gave me confidence.”