Life is but a DREAM

Burkburnett High School students like Steve Schutte, left, and Cody Burks spent a week with Sheppard personnel during the 8th Annual DREAM Week. Steve and Cody, who want to pursue a career in law enforcement, worked with security forces personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Ingle)

Burkburnett High School students like Steve Schutte, left, and Cody Burks spent a week with Sheppard personnel during the 8th Annual DREAM Week. Steve and Cody, who want to pursue a career in law enforcement, worked with security forces personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Ingle)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE -- High school students across the country would love the opportunity to get a glimpse at a possible career before having to make a decision for their future. 

Burkburnett High School juniors returned to Sheppard Monday for the eighth year in a row to do just that. Students were able to experience what it's like to be a meteorologist, radiologist, police officer and electrical engineer. Others spent time working with nurses, pilots, physical therapists and dentists. 

Pierce Halverson spent time with Sam Hagins, the base energy manager at the 82nd Civil Engineer Squadron. He said he's had an interest in electricity for some time and see electrical engineering as his future career. 

During his week-long visit with Mr. Hagins, Pierce said he was able to go out to a site at the 80th Flying Training Wing and see what goes into putting lights into a structure. He said he didn't realize how many details there were to putting lighting fixtures in a facility. 

"I've always looked forward to going out and seeing what a real career would look like," he said. 

Physical Therapy turned out to be the most popular career field as six students signed up to shadow therapists at the 82nd Medical Group. Medical jobs seemed to be the favorite of the 32 participants. 

Some students were able to stretch out the long arm of the law as they trained with 82nd Security Forces Squadron's Tech. Sgt. Edward Jones. The sergeant said they learned how to fingerprint "alleged criminals," use hand cuffs, trained on the use of a police baton and even headed out to the combat arms training facility to learn about weapons the squadron uses. 

"They have been great," Sergeant Jones said, "and I've enjoyed working with them." 

The aspiring law enforcement officers said they can see a difference between what civilian officers are required to do and their military counterparts. 

"From what we've seen, they do a lot more than bother people out on the street," Steve Schutte said. "They have a lot of additional duties." 

Steve also said another big difference is the responsibility security forces personnel have when they deploy to other countries. 

During the week, students were give tasks by their mentor. They were responsible for researching materials, using teamwork and providing a presentation at the end of the week. 

According to Debi Smith, chief of community relations for Sheppard and the base program coordinator, said students aren't the only ones who benefit from Dream Week. She said some taskings result in real-world solutions for some organizations. 

"A student assisted with core curriculum to decrease the wash-back rates during a certain block of training (in a training squadron)," Ms. Smith said of a previous year's success. 

Other than a few minor hiccups, Ms. Smith said the week was a success for the students and a pleasure for the mentors.