Exposing young students to a variety of career paths

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BRATTLEBORO — Close to 300 tenth graders will attend a Sophomore Career Summit all day on Wednesday, April 26, at the Latchis Theatre to explore career interests and gain information directly from the business community in small groups with panel discussions composed of local professionals.

According to core organizers from Youth Services, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation and Southern Vermont Area Health Education Center, all area high schools are expected to be represented with participants, including Compass School and Kindle Farm.

Each student will attend two pre-selected workshops representative of the 20 career pathways being explored. The panels range from political and legal careers, to renewable energy, public safety, construction trades, forestry or advanced manufacturing, to name a few. The day concludes with a keynote speaker and a panel discussion on post-secondary options.

"From my work with high school-aged young people I knew that the tenth graders could benefit from more exposure to a variety of career paths," said Youth Services' Susan Lawson-Kelleher, Workforce Development Coordinator who directs the RAMP career-focused mentoring program in Brattleboro and Bellows Falls high schools.

According to Lawson-Kelleher, it has been a huge year-long collaborative effort between the school systems, area organizations with interest in youth and workforce education.

"The hope of many involved is that this will become an annual event. Businesses and area professionals are also excited to have a chance to shape the career directions of area students," she said.

The organizers had heard about Bennington and Rutland schools doing something similar for their sophomores and partnered with key stakeholders such as guidance counselors from area schools.

"The idea was met with a lot of enthusiasm," said Lawson-Kelleher. "Latchis agreed to host the event for free and other venues nearby are also providing room for break-out sessions such at Marlboro Graduate Center."

Students have already signed up for workshops of their choice. The most popular workshops are for careers in the health and animal science fields as well as theater, music and fine arts.

Lawson-Kelleher is most excited about the breath of specialties represented in each career cluster. For example, she says, in the animal sciences panel they've recruited a veterinarian, a vet technician, a dairy farmer owner who also manufactures products from milk, a dog trainer who also works for the Humane Society and an individual in the meat packing industry.

"The sophomores will be exposed to quite a wide range of careers within each field," she said.

Organized without a budget, the committee is grateful for the time of the many panelists, the funding from the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation and the donation of space by the Latchis Theater.

For more information, contact the guidance counselor at your local high school or Youth Services at 802-257-0361. ext. 140.


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