Alyssa Bates / students

by Marty Proctor

Take Stock In Children (TSIC) held its annual Career Speed Dating event on October 29, at Leesburg High School.  A total of 51 local high school students attended to meet with local business and professional career presenters.  The students were divided into small groups for short presentations from each presenter.  The students moved from table to table meeting with a marketing business owner, day spa owner, telecom manager, accounting professional (CPA), animal enforcement officer with the Sheriff’s office, ER nurse, and an attorney.  “This is a great way for a student to learn about different careers in small bites” stated Connie Kolisnyk College success coach with TSIC.   The students were very interactive and eager to understand the presenter’s perspective.

Curt Binney and students

All eight Lake County high schools including East Ridge, South Lake, and Lake Minneola participated in the event.  Transportation and a pizza lunch were provided to give the day a fun field trip feel.  Each of the presenters got 10 minutes to talk to the students about the educational background required for their fields.  Students asked about the pros and cons of the position and the presenters added information about their job roles and responsibilities.  Some of the presenters explained how different paths and skills have led to unexpected success over their careers.  Connie added, “We’ve had students who discovered a new or unexpected career path or opportunity at these events.”

“This is a tried and true event,” commented Esther Solin the Sumter County Mentor Student Coordinator.  “The event consistently attracts high-end professionals with successful careers as well as people with specific technical knowledge.”  The presenters represent post-college career paths as well as trades requiring technical training and certification.  “Ironically these technical trades are in higher demand today than some four-year degree driven professions,” Ms. Solin interjected. “Welders with a certificate are coming out of the box at up to $50 per hour.”  This program is designed to support all types of career development.

Career Speed Dating Career Presenters

Nicole Marconi and Lisa Bryant also brought fourteen of their students from the East Ridge High School High Tech (HSHT) program.  The event exposes those disadvantaged youths to a variety of careers.  HSHT and TSIC are both non-profit organizations funded by the same parent non-governmental agency.  Student Johnny Poppell a senior at East Ridge chimed in, “It was nice to meet business owners outside my usual interests.  They may not be following my career path but it helps to hear how they run their business.”  Samuel Perez Morales, a freshman at Lake Minneola, said, “I liked everything.  Everyone was so cool to us and seeing how much they like, even love what they do.”

Career “Speed Dating” is an annual event for TSIC students.  It is designed for students to learn more about potential careers for their future lives.  The interactive workshop allows students to ask the presenters questions and get advice directly to know more about what the presenters do and how they go about doing their work.

Take Stock in Children can be reached by email at or by phone at 352-787-6576 or on the web at:

TSIC Career LMHS students Samuel and Sierra with Marty Proctor

Marty Proctor is a writer for the South Lake Tablet covering Groveland and the surrounding area. His primary interests are the local impact of city and county government, local growth management, tracking area charitable groups and sharing factual information.

Marty is a long time resident on Lake Emma north of Groveland doing public information consulting, social media marketing and freelance writing as well as fishing, bowling, and caring for wife Julie and dachshund Georgia.