I was invited to speak at Palmetto Middle School’s career day yesterday. Arrived on time at 8:30am for orientation and breakfast, and was asked by my two student escorts: “Are you Sebastian The Ibis?” Apparently, they noticed the UM decal on the back of my car – and no, I’m not a professional mascot, thank-you. I was escorted to the library and as I’m walking in, I’m pushed aside by a gigantic man with a bushy mustache. “Excuse me, sir – python coming through.” Ron Magill from MetroZoo with a huge snake. How am I possibly going to compete against a professional mascot and Miami’s most famous animal expert. Rough start.

It did, however, get much better from there on. I was assigned to a class of graphic design student, on the other side of campus. Entering the classroom, I almost automatically hear whispers of “who’s this guy” and “why isn’t he wearing a suit.” It took a few minutes to calm that 8th grade class down, but once we were grooving, they were all ears. Apparently, the school offers students the opportunity to try advanced printing techniques like screen printer and decal creation. Very cool stuff. And then came the obvious question from a feisty little brunette in the front row: “How much do you make?” A little tap dancing around, and I ended up at “do what you love” again. They didn’t seem really amused, but I got some applause at the end and some great questions. On to second period graphic design – this time 6th grade. They were ready – grabbing bean bags and making a semi-circle around me. Same speech, more great questions – I’m was really impressed.

Some interesting observations from my questions:

  • Students mostly favored Macs, but most said they didn’t have one because of the cost.
  • More 6th graders active on Twitter than 8th graders – like 50% more.
  • At least 5 kids in each class had an iPhone
  • Some overall career interest: attorney, psychologist, pharmacist, video game developer, archeologist, and voice over actor.
  • Neither class knew who James Earl Jones was (until I mentioned “Luuuuuuke, I am your Faaaaather)

A wonderful way to start a Friday. Big props to Dawn Plummer Ratiner for coordinating such a great event. And thank-you to Palmetto Middle School and the awesome graphic designers in Room 126. Good luck!

Ivan Mladenovic

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