MARCH 2018

Clay Career Day at SJR State opens eyes and doors to career possibilities

nursing instructor with potential student
nursing instructor with potential student
criminal justice faculty with students
Transformation, painting
Transformation, painting
Transformation, painting

Dressed the part in black scrubs, Abigail Wood, a senior enrolled in the Health Science Academy at Middleburg High School, listened to the heartbeat of a mannequin "patient" during one of the career stops at the Clay Career Day at St. Johns River State College. “I’ve always had a passion to care for people,” she said. “And since my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, my passion grew stronger for caring for patients. I believe it’s the career path for me.”  

Wood, who aspires to become an anesthesiologist, was one of the 200 Clay County high school students to visit the SJR State Orange Park campus during the annual career exploration event. Wood said that after researching the skillsets required for her desired career, she has no doubt that she’s a good match for that role and that SJR State would be her first destination. Wood plans to first earn her Associate in Arts degree (transfer degree) before possibly transferring to Liberty University to continue her studies.  

During the tour, Wood enjoyed visiting the various departments and learning about all the academic options available to students at SJR State. However, her favorite stop was the College’s nursing lab. “It’s pretty cool there with the mannequins,” she said.

Orange Park High School student Sandaria Young said she has no doubt that she wants to become an OBGYN, but she may want to become an elementary school teacher first. Although enrolled in the Early Childhood Academy at OPHS, Young said, “I also have an interest in the Healthy Academy. I just really like working with kids and working with adults and working with moms. I want to be an OBGYN; it’s something that I’ve liked for a long time. I also like wearing scrubs,” she added with a laugh.

Her favorite part about spending time in the nursing lab was the sincere, welcoming nature of the faculty. “I really liked that the director and instructors were there and available to answer questions,” she noted. “They were very energetic and great people to talk to. They were so welcoming and made me feel like they’d be happy to have me come and be one of their students.”

Young is thinking about starting her college journey at SJR State. “I’m really liking it here,” she stated as she walked across campus, headed to the criminal justice tour stop.

Orange Park High School junior Jacie Ankrom said she gained a new perspective on the criminal justice profession after visiting the criminal justice tour stop and talking with SJR State faculty and Clay County Sheriff’s Office representatives.

“I think it’s very interesting to learn about the actual logistics of becoming a police officer instead of just hearing about who they are and what they stand for from society,” she said.

The event also included a variety of the Clay School District’s business partners that participated in a career awareness fair. Participating organizations included the American Red Cross, Auld and White Constructors, Career Source, Carlton Construction, Century Ambulance, Chick-Fil-A, Clay County Fire Rescue and Emergency Management, Electrical Training Alliance of Jacksonville, Garber Auto Mall, Jacksonville Plumbers and Pipefitters, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Knowledge 4 College, Northeast Florida Builders Association, Signature Healthcare, The Haskell Company, United States Army, Vac-Con Inc., Vallencourt Construction and YMCA of Florida’s First Coast.

Kelly Mosley, Clay County’s supervisor of Career and Technical Education, said events like Clay Career Day are essential in making students aware and educating them about the post-secondary and career opportunities that are available to them after high school. "We are grateful for the strong relationship with St. Johns River State College and the business partners who participated in the career fair portion of the event.  We could not provide these opportunities for our students without these organizations," Mosley said.  

For more information about SJR State’s graduation rates, median debt of students who completed certificate programs, and other important information, please visit our website at

For more information about the Associate in Arts degree, bachelor's degrees or the 25+ Workforce Development programs, visit the website at


SJR State nursing instructor Diane Pagano watches as Abigail Wood, a senior enrolled in the Health Science Academy at Middleburg High School, listens to the heartbeat of a mannequin “patient” during the Clay Career Day at St. Johns River State College.

SJR State nursing instructor Charlene Velasco assists as Orange Park High School student Sandaria Young searches for a heartbeat on one of the College’s mannequins during the Clay Career Day at St. Johns River State College.

Orange Park High School juniors Jacob Hart and Jacie Ankrom learn about cadet training with SJR State’s criminal justice instructor Stephen Mills during the Clay Career Day at St. Johns River State College.

Clay County students attending the Clay Career Day at St. Johns River State College listen intently to a Clay County Sheriff’s Office representative as she shares their latest technology.

SJR State computer science instructor Walter Lara instructs an Oakleaf High School senior on how to fly a drone.

Oakleaf High School senior Demonte Richmond (far right) tries flying a drone for the first time.



Susan Kessler
Director of Public Relations and Publications
(386) 312-4020