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Grads bring high school classes back to complete circle

Liesl Barcus, a 2012 graduate of Carl Junction High School, last year found herself back at CJ when school began in August — this time as a teacher. 

"I came back to teach at my old high school. I went the full circle," said Barcus, who accepted a position as a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and teaches nutrition and wellness and fashion design. "Now I am teaching with my own high school educators!" 

Thursday, that circle will be widened a bit further when Barcus takes her students back to Pittsburg State University, where she earned a degree in 2016, to let them explore the potential for careers related to family and consumer sciences. 

The students will be among 138 students from more than 35 high schools, including many from Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas, to attend the 19th Annual Family and Consumer Sciences Career Day. 

It's become the major event of the year for the Family and Consumer Sciences Department. 

"Since there are so many options and routes you can take in the field, I wanted to show them those different aspects and job opportunities that it offers," Barcus said. 

To add another twist, as a senior at PSU, Barcus presented to participating high school students at the annual event, and helped guide tours during her junior year.  

Now that she not only teaches but manages a household, she sees the value of what she was both learning and promoting at the fair years ago. 

"There are so many avenues available that I was able to learn a lot of different skills," she said. "I took a personal finance class that allowed me to focus on a budget, and then my second year I was able to teach about it in front of a lecture hall. I was able to take a construction/sewing class that's been beneficial in both my personal life and my fashion design class here at school. The courses gave me ways of self-improving in finances, cooking, and planning." 

Brandy Harpole, a graduate of Labette County High School, also is returning to PSU for the event with a group of her students from Columbus (Kan.) High School. 

She graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences Education, and now teaches Human Growth and Development, Teaching as a Career, Teaching Internship, Career Connections, Intro to Family and Consumer Sciences and Basic Cooking Skills.  

"I always try to get students on campus and especially into the FACS department," she said. "This degree option has so much to offer potential students and their communities. It has been a wonderful career for me and I would love to see my students reap the benefits from it, as well." 

Held in the Student Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., it will include an opportunity to meet one of the creators of the annual event, Christine Elliott, now an emeritus faculty member. 

To learn more about the Family & Consumer Science program, visit http://www.pittstate.edu/department/family/

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