GAINING EARLY AWARENESS AND READINESS FOR UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS (GEAR UP)

Kiona Benton High School Students GEAR UP for Their Futures

On Friday, November 20, 2015 GEAR UP, in collaboration with Kiona Benton City High School staff, helped organize the 2nd annual College and Career Day for KiBe students. The event started at 9:10am and ended at 11:45am in time for students to go to lunch. Students attended 4, 35-minute sessions during this time. One session was the college/ military fair going on in the Commons and the other 3 sessions were based off their stated interests.

The planning started in September as all students were asked to label on a survey their top 10 interests. Interests included “Cost of College,” “Mechanical Engineering,” “Computer Science,” “Agriculture Business Manager,” “Viticulture,” “Doctor,” and so much more. GEAR UP Site Manager, Alyse Pivovarnik then compiled survey data to show which topics had the most interest. From September to November, many professionals in the Tri Cities were contacted and asked to share their professions with the students of KiBe. While Ms. Pivovarnik worked on the career and college presentation side of the event, KiBe counselor, Kimm Minkler, contacted colleges, special programs, and military to be present during the traditional college/ military fair portion of the day.

The event grew tremendously from last year, boasting 46 sessions covering 33 topics from last year’s 45 sessions covering 21 topics. Instead of offering a generic “Health Careers” session, Ms. Pivovarnik saw the importance of breaking that broad topic apart and this year offered “Nursing,” and “Doctor” presentations. In addition, last year’s “Engineering” was broken into “Mechanical Engineering,” Electrical Engineering,” “Chemical Engineering,” and “Computer Science” with help from Areva’s North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN) chapter. There was a greater focus this year on careers during the classroom presentation portion of the day. After all, a student must be knowledgeable of his or her future career in order to determine what education to pursue beyond high school.

The feedback from the event was exciting and encouraging!  Last year, many students did not complete the initial interest survey and were placed in sessions randomly. That paired with the fact that not as much variety was offered, led to some student disappointment. However, this year was different. One teacher said, “I was in the DJ performance and saw students come alive in ways they would never in a gen. ed. classroom. I have already heard from students, ‘I can’t wait for this next year.’”  These student sentiments were confirmed as Ms. Pivovarnik read through comments on the event feedback surveys. Students said, “It opened my eyes. I figured out my life on a career;” “It got me excited about the future;” and "I saw different opportunities." 

Overall the event was a great success as students were able to explore the exact careers they are interested in rather than being in sessions covering broad, general topics. Ms. Pivovarnik looks forward to continuing to improve the event as she looks forward to next year.

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