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Students consider future at college fair


Seniors Malcolm Carson and Dylan Jenkins talk to a college recruiter from the University of Washington at the college fair held at Lake Roosevelt on Oct. 4. - Jacob Wagner photo

Students at Lake Roosevelt Junior/Senior High School thought hard about their future last week when they attended a college fair held in the gymnasium.

Twelve colleges from around the Pacific Northwest, including universities, community colleges, technical and trade schools, set up booths in the Lake Roosevelt gymnasium, where students from one grade at a time, ranging from grades seven through 12, were able to ask questions about the colleges, financial aid, and more.

"They get to experience talking to someone about their future," said Jesse Utz, who runs the Pathways program at Lake Roosevelt that organized the college fair. "They also learn if certain schools have career fields that they are interested in, scholarships available, native American programs, sports, tutoring programs and other things."

"We had a great turnout," Utz said. "The kids were enthusiastic, and a lot of the schools said they came away with very solid recruits."

The older students get to look at options for what could be right around the corner, but the younger students still gain from the experience, though they still have a ways to go before they are legally adults.

"They start to grasp the concept that their grades and choices actually do matter at this time in their life," Utz said.

Utz said the college fair also helps LR get to know its students better.

"It gives the student and us, as the school, a picture of what the student wants to do in the future," Utz said. "And we can try and adjust the student's education to benefit their later career choice."

Utz elaborated on the idea of a custom-tailored education, something the Pathways program pursues.

"Pathways looks at the students' goals and helps them achieve them," he said. "It only makes sense. If a student wants to be a doctor, then we should be having students take the classes that will help them cultivate that career and advance them as a college student. But in the same thought process, if a student struggles all through high school and has repeatedly told us they are not going to college, they just want to work, then we should have classes that will advance their skills in the trades. Prepare them for the workforce. It is about building a relationship with a student and then building their education around what they will succeed at in the future."

LR classes that are centered around different possible career paths include: Intro to Business, Principles of Engineering, Carpentry, Career Choices, Auto Shop and Welding.

Pathways also helps students collect their best work into a portfolio that is required for graduation, as well as helps students prepare to be adults by teaching them how to interview, construct a resume, and more.

Utz said he plans to include financial planning, loan procedures, and other skills needed as adults in the program in the near future.

"The key part is making connections and partnerships with community members and businesses, with schools and trades," Utz said. "We need to connect these future employees with mentors and citizens these kids are familiar with to lead them into the future. Some will go to four-year schools, some two-year schools, some trade schools, some workforce, but the bottom line is to prepare them for what lies ahead. The better we prepare, the faster they will become contributing members of society and become the mentors of the future."

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