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YOUNGSTOWN Teens hear success stories

By Cynthia Vinarsky

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

More than 500 students from 12 area high schools participated.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Dry spells. Setbacks. Discouraging words.
Some accomplished business leaders told how negative experiences became positives in their search for career success when they addressed students attending a career showcase Tuesday at Youngstown State University.
For Michael Wright, now executive director of the Community Food Warehouse of the Shenango Valley, losing a job and his subsequent search for employment led to a 20-year career running the nonprofit agency that feeds the poor in Mercer County, Pa.
Unable to land a job for months, even with a bachelor's degree in business management, Wright said he cleaned a church, cut lawns and prepared income tax returns to support his family. He found his niche one day when he was forced to stand in a free-food line at a local church.
"Life experience is the key to everything you do," said Wright, keynote speaker for the Business 2020 event cosponsored by YSU, Junior Achievement of the Mahoning Valley, Ohio Edison and the Industrial Information Institute for Education. More than 500 students from 12 area high schools participated.
Proved counselor wrong
Negative words from a high school guidance counselor could have had a life-changing impact on Michael Senchak, but the chief executive of Mahoning Valley Hospital said he was determined to prove the adviser wrong.
Senchak said he was a "very average" student at Ursuline High School when a counselor advised him to forget about his plans to go to college. "Listen to yourself," he said. "If I'd have listened to that counselor, I'd never have gone on to earn three college degrees."
His first job was a disappointment too, at first. Graduating with a bachelor's degree in business, he was hired as an orderly at Humility of Mary Health Partners after an 18-month job search, but the job helped him recognize his compassionate side. He went on to earn a second degree in nursing and a master's degree in business, all from YSU.
Senchak encouraged students to consider health careers because openings will be plentiful in the coming years, especially in nursing. Large numbers of registered nurses are approaching retirement age, he said, estimating as many as 500,000 new nurses will be needed over the next 15 years.
Career with IRS
For Denise Dolesh the drudgery of waitressing to pay her way through college inspired her to search for an internship in her chosen field, accounting. The internship opportunity she found with the Internal Revenue Service in Cleveland led to the job she loves as a special agent for the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit investigating tax fraud.
When a show of hands revealed that several students listening planned to major in criminal justice, Dolesh advised them to make themselves more employable by choosing a minor in accounting or computer information systems. The IRS will be adding as many as 500 special agents over the next few years to replace agents who are retiring, she said, but some technical or numbers skills will be essential.
"Look at me. I'm a special agent, and I was an accounting major," she said. More than 1,200 high school students from 25 local high schools participated in Career 2020 programs this academic year, and the next session is scheduled for Nov. 9. Call Christine Skelton, coordinator of external relations for YSU's Williamson School of Business, at (330) 941-3068 for more information.