Celebrating CTE

Students honored for choosing CTE pathways at UCC

About 20 Douglas County students were lauded recently for choosing to enter career and technical education programs that will not only give them opportunities for high-wage, high-demand jobs but may also benefit their community and local economy.  

The students put pen to paper Feb. 21 to sign letters of intent to join several of Umpqua Community College’s career and technical education programs, as part of the inaugural UCC National CTE Signing Day.  

The event was sponsored by the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), an organization that seeks to create highly-skilled, job-ready professionals through a growing network of educational partners and global industry leaders. 

“UCC is an NC3 leadership school, and we are enthusiastically joining this national movement to congratulate students that have made the decision to pursue an education that results in valuable skills for them to play a viable role in our community,” emcee BZ Zeller, UCC alumnus and instructor, told the families, instructors and youth who gathered for the event at the Danny Lang Teaching, Learning and Event Center on campus.  

The event is intended to mirror the NCAA’s National Signing Day for athletes who commit to playing sports in college. More than 60 institutions across the country participated in the NC3 event, which was sponsored locally by UCC and the Douglas Education Service District.  

UCC President Debra Thatcher congratulated the students for taking charge of their futures by selecting a rigorous and satisfying career pathway.  

“You’re going to find great satisfaction because of the ways you’re going to be challenged mentally to seek out problems and to find solutions. You’re going to find great satisfaction because of the way your soul will be nourished by the tangible, meaningful results of your work,” she said.  

CTE programs that UCC offers include automotive technology, business, engineering, computer information systems, computer science, commercial truck driving, welding, dental assisting, paramedic, fire science, criminal justice, viticulture/enology, paralegal, human services, police reserve academy, apprenticeship, registered nursing and early childhood education.  

Jason Aase, UCC’s dean of career and technical education, said the purpose of the Signing Day event was to elevate the status of CTE careers, helping students realize that the work they’ve chosen deserves to be celebrated.  

“CTE education is not dark, dirty, dangerous, demoralizing work. CTE education is bright, it’s clean, it’s high-tech, with enormous career potential and enormous earning potential,” he said.  

Students took turns at the front of the room, where they signed their letters of intent, donned RiverHawks baseball hats and posed for pictures with their future instructors. 

Many students said after the event that they appreciated the chance to meet their future instructors and professors. 

Sutherlin High School senior Jasmine Warren, who will be entering the nursing program, said she felt motivated by the event and appreciates the emphasis placed on the value of CTE programs. 

“‘I feel like a lot of the programs, they weren’t in the past as appreciated or really known about, and now in past years they’ve been more presented to us,” she said. 

Fellow Sutherlin senior Anthony Friesen plans to enter UCC’s welding program. He appreciated the Signing Day theme of the event.  

“It’s cool to see them try to incorporate the idea,” he said. “It definitely makes it a lot more special.” 

Melody Cornish, CTE regional coordinator for Douglas ESD, said she felt the event was a success and expects to grow the event next year to include even more students from across Douglas County.  

“Our local students need to know that the trades and other CTE-related careers offer great jobs that will lead them to future success and will also support the needs of our local communities by providing valuable services,” she said.   

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