BOONE GROVE — The Boone Grove Elementary School fourth- and fifth-graders took a closer look at Lisa Broton after learning she worked at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

Broton, who has been the school's media specialist for five years, has created a career exploration program for students.

"At this age I know kids don't really know what they want to do when they grow up," she said. "Most people know about being a teacher, a nurse, a doctor or a lawyer but there are so many other careers out there and I wanted to expose them to other professions."

To that end, Broton whose degree is in hospitality management from Purdue University, talked to students about her career and how she came to become a media specialist after working in hospitality and advertising. The students were impressed with the time she spent working at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and at Walt Disney.

"You are not stuck doing one thing forever," she told the youngsters. "Find a job that you love, something that makes you happy."

Broton has scheduled a speech pathologist, a nurse, a financial planner, real estate agent, a golf pro, a home care agency recruiter, a federal officer, a supervisor at Urschel Labs in Valparaiso, and a newspaper reporter to talk to students about their careers.

Besides Broton, the biggest hit so far may have been Aaron Treble, of Valparaiso, who built his own "Star Wars" R2-D2 robot in his home shop and brought it to school.

Treble said he's shown his robot to hundreds of school children over the years, and enjoys the chance to talk about his career with children. 

He followed an unconventional path, choosing not to attend college, he said, instead serving eight years in the U.S. Air Force working on F-16 and F-117 fighter jets.

"I was offered a full ride, four-year scholarship to the Air Force Academy in 1992 but I turned it down," he said. "My parents thought I was insane but I was working on fighter jets — thinking I was like Tom Cruise in Top Gun — and I loved my job. I kept doing it until I noticed my friends were making more money than me."

Treble said he got out of the Air Force and worked on commercial jets for United Airlines at O'Hare because he loved working on anything mechanical, electrical or on computers. Treble told the students he took a job at Praxair and has been there almost 20 years now.

"I worked my way up to management but I was miserable and hated being a manager, and told my supervisors I'd rather be a Praxair plant operator," he said.

Treble said he now has plenty of time to spend with his wife and pursue his passions.

Treble loaded his presentation to the students with pictures of fighter jets, exotic vacation pictures from Egypt, Serengeti and London, along with plenty of technology, and of course, R2-D2.

"Students need to know there are other options than the 'graduate from college and work to 65' routine," he said. "I encourage all students to find a way to do what they love and enjoy."

Fifth-grader Gavin Davis said he's not a big fan of "Star Wars," but he thought the robot was pretty cool.

"I want to be a costume artist for movies," he said. "I think that Mrs. Broton getting a chance to work at Walt Disney was pretty cool."

Fifth-graders Kiley Sims and her friend Lily Flores sat enthralled through Broton's presentation and were among the first to quiz the media specialist about her career before coming to the elementary school.

Kiley said she can't decide if she will be a singer or a veterinarian.

"I sing at church and on my grandma's side, everyone is talented and my uncle can play the guitar, but I've always wanted to be a vet," she said.

Lily is deciding between being a vet or a baker. The youngster said she already can bake cakes, cupcakes and pancakes.

"I really liked the guy with the robot," Lily said. "He told us how long it took him to build it and he opened a latch and showed us how the robot operates."

Fifth-grader Nick Ratkovich said he thought both presentations were fun. "When I grow up," he said, "I want to get a baseball scholarship and make it my career."

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Education reporter

Carmen is an award-winning journalist who has worked at The Times newspaper for 20 years. Before that she also had stints at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., The Post-Tribune and The News Dispatch in Michigan City.