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Penn College’s First “˜NEO Guys’ Enjoy Hands-On Experiences

A North Penn student sautés vegetables in a School of Hospitality kitchen A NEO Guy injects solution into a dental hygiene mannequin.Pennsylvania College of Technology recently hosted its inaugural Nontraditional Employment Opportunities (NEO) Guys event, exposing male teenagers to job opportunities in all areas and encouraging career choice based on interests and individual strengths.

Seventh- and eighth-graders from North Penn High School in Blossburg visited the college’s main campus in Williamsport on Thursday, May 26, attending intensive, hands-on workshops in dental hygiene and culinary arts.

The NEO Guys began the day with Career Services staff members Barbara P. Benner and Danielle M. Liddic, coordinators of nontraditional careers, learning what a nontraditional career is one in which individuals from one gender make up less than 25 percent of those employed in that field.

Students celebrate their success with Chef Paul E. Mach They also participated in several activities designed to help them “move outside their comfort zone” and “think outside the box,” Liddic said.

Shawn A. Kiser, director of dental hygiene in Penn College’s School of Health Sciences, led his session with an explanation of dental hygiene, the qualifications needed to be successful and the job opportunities associated with the field, as well as what courses students should take to prepare for entering the major at the college level.

The students experienced hands-on activities to learn more about what dental hygiene entails.

Preparing to take a dental X-ray “Each student had the opportunity to make a complete tooth mold by accurately measuring and combining clay-mix ingredients, operating a dental shaker and filling the molds,” Benner said. “After this activity, the group moved over to the X-ray laboratory and was instructed on how to take and develop mouth X-rays. Each student took two sets of mouth X-rays and developed them in the darkroom. As a bonus, some students were carefully supervised as they injected solution into a mannequin’s mouth using a dental syringe.”

NEO Guys enjoy their 'fabulous' culinary creation in this photo by Barbara P. Benner Students’ comments included, “It was fun; I liked the activities,” “I liked how that we were hands-on with things and had the good experience” and “Super great!” Dental hygiene director Shawn A. Kiser offers an overview of the profession

The next offering was a culinary arts experience with Chef Paul E. Mach, assistant professor of hospitality management/culinary arts in Penn College’s School of Hospitality.

The students assisted in food preparation, frying, presentation and, finally, tasting the first-rate meal that Mach planned for the group. Even students who didn’t think they would enjoy it tried the meal and enjoyed the experience. Their comments ranged from “Food was interesting and pretty good” to “Awesome!” and “I loved cooking.”

Overall, the day was a fabulous experience for the students and for the school chaperone, who had the following comments: “Hands-on was very interesting” and “Students creating a top-notch meal was great to watch.”

“All involved said they would love to come again and would definitely recommend the program to a friend,” Liddic said. “Hopefully, after experiencing these new career areas, these students will be open to all possibilities in the future. I think one evaluation statement sums it up, “˜I will use what I learned because I know I can do many things that are unexpected.'”

Preparing the plates, on the road to a professional presentation. Using the 'dental shaker' to prepare a mold The program is a spinoff of the college’s successful Science and Math Applications in Real-World Technologies (SMART) Girls that similarly explores nontraditional careers for young women.

Girls entering ninth through 11th grades this fall are invited to attend the next residential SMART Girls program from July 10-14 intended to cultivate their interest in math and science. Enrollment is limited to the first 50 applicants, each of whom is charged a $150 materials fee. Participants are housed in college residence halls, and all meals are provided. The registration deadline is June 20; information is available online.

For more about NEO Guys, visit on the Web. Those interested in participating also can call 570-327-4502 to learn more about both programs.

For general information about Penn College, visit online, email or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Unless otherwise noted, photos by Danielle M. Liddic

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