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Ever since she can remember Namitha Schafer always knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.
I wanted to be a doctor, she said.
But while her career path eventually led her to the position of program associate of the homework lab at Joint Base Lewis-McChords North Fort Youth Center, she still sees the value of young people learning about careers. When Schafer asked a child what he wanted to be when he grew up, she was surprised when he responded with I dont know.
I thought maybe the child didnt have enough exposure or no one is talking to him about it, Schafer said. A lot of these childrens parents are in the military, but they dont know what a lot of them do.
Her interaction with the child inspired Schafer to organize and plan the centers first career day Nov. 28. Nearly 100 kids spent part of the afternoon walking from table to table in the youth centers gym to talk to grown-ups about what they do for a living.
Do you know what a lawyer is? Cpt. Krista Bartolomucci asked kids surrounding her table.
Its a worker, a youth responded.
While Bartolomucci explained her position as an attorney in the Staff Judge Advocate Office, the kids pressed her with frank questions. One asked, Do you shoot people?
One of the most popular tables was led by Spc. Nicole Carnahan, a surgical specialist at Madigan Healthcare System. The kids were allowed to put on blue surgical gloves and learn about surgical equipment.
I have the greatest job in the Army, Carnahan said.
A medical dish labeled liver and contents tested the strength of the kids stomachs, but contained canned dog food instead of human organs.
Im all ready to be a doctor, a child said. Im not scared of the slimy stuff.
Airmen with the 5th Air Support Operations Squadron allowed the kids to look through night vision goggles, put on noise reducing headsets and blow into wind speed indicators. They peered inside a tactical vehicle parked outside.
Also present were representatives of JBLMs Hired! Apprenticeship Program, which assists teens in exploring career options.
The goal is to educate and set a foundation for them, Schafer said.
The career day also exposed the children to different cultures. About 30 young members of Lewis North dance teams practiced and performed traditional African and Indian dances during the career day.