MONTCLAIR, NJ More than 40 professionals gathered at Glenfield Middle School for the annual African American Career Day on Fri., Feb. 13, a celebration held in honor of Black History Month. The event brought members of the community to Glenfield to speak to students about a variety of different fields ranging from entertainment, to healthcare, law, business, and more.

Principal Joe Putrino welcomed speakers. “Through the years what I have found most special about this event as I listen in on your presentations is that students don’t always want to hear all about what you do. They want to know how you got there,” he said. “I wish you could all see each other and what happens in these classrooms because it’s very inspirational. You have the potential to drive them in a successful direction.”

Guests included attorney Stacey Meisel who not only started her own law firm at the age of 29 but is a member of the New Jersey Panel of Bankruptcy Trustees appointed by the United States Department of Justice. Meisel is the first African American woman to serve in this position in the state. “I come from humble beginnings,” she said. “My message is: If you think you can do it. You can do it. Don’t let limitations stop you.”

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Jim Shepard, a private equity investor who went to school for engineering and previously spent 30 years at GE, had an important piece of advice to share with students. He said, “Life is not a straight line. It takes a lot of different paths.” 

Also in attendance was actress Ami Brabson, who is known for her roles on the TV seriesLaw & Order and Homicide: Life on the Streets. She said she wants students to know that “throughout their lives they will be learning. It doesn’t stop in middle school or high school. They must know and be open to always learning.”


Performer Ty Stephens spoke about life in the entertainment business. He said, “In the entertainment business, not everyone can be the next Beyonce or the next Usher, but you have to work toward being your best.” He added, “...and you must always love what you do.”

Glenfield social studies teacher and co-coordinator of the event Syreeta Carrington said “I believe it takes all types of people from different backgrounds and experiences to inspire a child. African American Career Day provides a unique opportunity for all students to see what is possible. We don’t always know exactly what it will be that we do as adults that will have the greatest impact on our students in the future.”