Middle school students had the opportunity to check out a multitude of careers available in the Union County area during yesterday’s (Dec. 1, 2010) Union County Public Schools career day held at South Piedmont Community College. The event, called the Annual Middle School Careers Connections, is geared toward middle school students. “We try to target the eighth grade because of the sheer numbers,” said Dr. Lorraine Collins, director of UCPS Career and Technical Education. Approximately 2,000 middle school students, predominantly eighth graders, traveled past table after table, looking at everything from firefighting to auto mechanics.
“Our goal is to expose students to various careers, community colleges, as well as some of the high school programs in the county, so that as they leave the eighth grade and embark on high school, they are already starting to think about their careers and develop goals,” Collins said. Organizers also hoped that students would realize the importance of working hard in high school and the significance of making preparations for after high school, Collins said. Theresa Miorin and Kayla York, both eighth graders from Piedmont Middle, said they enjoyed the career day and learned some valuable lessons. “I learned a lot about the Distributive Education Clubs of America program,” Miorin said. “It sounds really interesting, with the different opportunities you can have. I was also interested in the Family Consumer Science program.”
Career Day is organized by JobReady and sponsored by UCPS Career and Technical Education (CTE). Linda Smith, a job broker with JobReady, said when students find a career or job path that interests them, they are able to gather information as to how to pursue that career, courses to take in high school and/or college and what they need to do to properly prepare.
“This event helps students realize how it’s going to be after they get out of school, and how to help yourself know what to do when you get older and what choices you need to make to get ahead in life,” York said.
There were 23 different venders, schools and program areas represented at the event. “A lot of the folks who are here are the ones who like to make the sparks happen in their area,” Smith said. “They have passion themselves and are excited about sharing their information. Over the years of building relationships with these companies, we’ve learned that there are people who just love to be a part of a middle school career day.”
“This is a very important event,” said Robert Melton, a firefighter with the Monroe Fire Department. “Students understand that careers are available to them. This is a great opportunity that lets students know all the great careers that are available in the Monroe and Union County area. I wish we had something like this when I was in school.”
Duke Energy brought its Launch Pad for Critical Careers bus to the event. “This mobile launch pad was created by Duke Energy and the community college system to provide students across the state information on careers, science, technology, engineering and math,” said Lisa Richman, the launch pad director and instructor. “We go to middle and high school career fairs and community colleges, and introduce students and adults to career opportunities.”
Richman said the five careers that Launch Pad focuses on are life science, health care, green energy technology, aerospace and advanced manufacturing, all considered critical careers in North Carolina.
Participants at the Career Fair also included the US Army, CMC-Union Nursing and Emergency Management (EMS) departments, Goodrich Corporation, South Piedmont Community College, Stanley Community College, CFNC (College Foundatin of North Carolina), ATI Allvac, Monroe Fire Department, Wingate University School of Pharmacy, Goulston Technologies and ESIS – GPS systems.
Central Academy of Technology and Arts students and instructors from each of the school’s academies were represented. This included the performing arts, teaching, information technology, engineering, health careers and transportation.
UCPS high school students volunteered their time to serve as guides around the SPCC campus during the event.
– Information provided by Union County public schools