Clover Middle School eighth-grader Sydney Lawler got a look Tuesday at her possible career.

Lawler, 14, spoke with representatives of Thomas and Leitner Orthodontics, which has offices in Rock Hill and Fort Mill, during Teen CEO Day at Winthrop University.

“I really like the idea of being an orthodontist,” Lawler said. “I can see what I’d be getting into if I decided to go into that.”

Teen CEO Day, held in Winthrop University’s coliseum, brought together eighth-graders from York, Lancaster and Chester County to talk with local businesses about careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM.

Nearly 5,000 local students got a chance to learn about careers in robotics, medicine, park service and other science and technology fields that exist locally.

Teen CEO Day is a collaborative effort with local businesses, school districts and the STEM Development Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to STEM education and increasing the number of students in STEM programs.

More than 45 business representatives shared with students what jobs are available that might interest them and what education, skills and personality traits are needed to be successful.

“Teen CEO was established to provide an opportunity for students to learn about what a wonderful community they live in and the careers and jobs that are here, as well as the career pathway of how they might go in that direction,” said Ed Duffy, executive director of the Stem Development Foundation.

South Carolina is facing a shortage of graduates in STEM fields, according to the foundation.

“This shortage is creating a major barrier to economic development, innovation and entrepreneurship in the state and the region,” the organization states on its website.

York, Chester and Lancaster County businesses need skilled talent in STEM areas, Duffy said. He said eighth-graders are excited and it is a good time to get them interested in careers.

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