Must we really choose?

After hearing the opinions of two of our own teachers here at Liberty regarding what kind of job students should consider for themselves (non-STEM or STEM), the Patriot Press decided to take up the issue.

Drew Brady and Gabby Messina


When it comes to what career students should pursue, they have many options. Generally, jobs are classified into two fields, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), or non-STEM.

Even though the top-paying jobs are in STEM fields, math teacher and former engineer Thomas Kennedy argues that it’s still possible to make enough money in other fields, while still having a chance at a more fulfilled life in doing something you really enjoy. He thinks that students should do what they enjoy, not necessarily what will make them the most money. “If a student has a passion, they should find a way to make money with that passion,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy was torn between pursuing two jobs while in high school—engineering and teaching—but went into electrical engineering because he liked the fact that math and physics were required for that job. Eventually he realized that the job was not for him because there was too much engineering involved, and turned to his second choice: teaching. His teaching job allows him to still apply his passion for math while helping shape students’ lives.

He believes that since jobs occupy huge chunks of a person’s life, it doesn’t make sense for a person to choose a career that is not interesting to them. According to Kennedy, many people are deterred from STEM fields because of the perception that they are difficult subjects of study, but that this is not entirely accurate.

“People shouldn’t be scared of STEM,” Kennedy said. “If it’s what you’re good at, and something you enjoy, it’s not hard.”
It seems that, with passion and the will to improve, people can succeed at whichever job they choose. They should not label themselves as too unintelligent for a job because that may inhibit them from finding a job that they look forward to going to every day.

“If you call yourself stupid, it’s because you think you’re stupid, and you are stupid for thinking that you’re stupid.” Kennedy said. “Most people are capable of most things. They’re just held back by their own lack of confidence.”


Liberty has no greater proponents of STEM careers than its science teachers.

Many students can recount instances in chemistry or physics when their teachers brought up a list of the most profitable occupations, promoting the engineering jobs that colored the top ten. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), eight of the ten “Top-Paid Majors for Class of 2014 Bachelor’s Degree Graduates” are some form of engineering. The other two are Computer Science and Business. But are engineering degrees for everybody? Our own Eleonor Schneider has a Master’s in Chemical Engineering and has worked extensively as a processing engineer.

“There’s just so much wicked cool stuff we’re doing,” Schneider said about the current world of science and engineering.

However, Schneider doesn’t promote engineering degrees for the lucrative profits that they often provide (even though those are difficult to ignore). Instead, she encourages engineering degrees for their applications in any kind of career.
Schneider said that even though Bill Gates is a well-known humanitarian and philanthropist, he is mainly driven by the engineering aspects of his life.

“There are just really cool problems and he’s an engineer, and he just wants to solve problems.
Engineering allows one to gain effective problem-solving skills and apply them to many different fields. Does this mean every student should embark on an engineering quest to gain these skills, even if one particular student may not have an interest in engineering?

“If you don’t like math, you’re not going to want to go into engineering,” Schneider said.

In order to take on an engineering career, one must have a curiosity for what things work, and why they work.

Upon being presented with the opinions of Mr. Kennedy: doing what you enjoy regardless of money, Schneider agreed and brought up an exception.

“I wouldn’t just follow the money, unless money is your passion,” Schneider said.