Encouraging exploration

Students, parents participate in college and career workshop event

Some Douglas County students and parents decided to make the most of Martin Luther King Jr. Day by exploring options for post-secondary education and careers.

About 20 people attended a free College and Career Planning Workshop hosted by the AmeriCorps members of Douglas County Partners for Student Success (DCPSS) and Phoenix School of Roseburg and held at the Boys & Girls Club of the Umpqua Valley in Roseburg.

Ten volunteers assisted participants with tasks such as filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Office of Student Access and Completion scholarship application, as well as guiding students through college and career exploration.

The AmeriCorps members organized and hosted the event as part of their service commitments and to serve as a celebration of community engagement.

“We chose to do this type of event because students don’t always know their options for life after high school,” said Nichole Jaki, the AmeriCorps Early College leader at Phoenix School of Roseburg. “We wanted to provide volunteers to assist them with their search and connect them with resources that could help them become successful.”

The event also featured Jessica Richardson and Destiny Hunt from Umpqua Community College, who gave a presentation on the financial aid process and other scholarship events and opportunities. National Guard Recruiter John Bay II discussed opportunities within the National Guard and how the Guard can pay for college, as well.

The event complements work occurring in the community through Bright Futures Umpqua, an initiative of Douglas County Partners for Student Success that seeks to enhance career-connected learning opportunities for local youth.

“Students need to realize that there are so many opportunities available to them after high school and that they can find opportunities that fit their individual needs and interests,” said Gwen Soderberg-Chase, director of DCPSS and the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub. “If we can help students discover the possibilities early on, they’ll be more encouraged to succeed in school and go after their dreams.”

AmeriCorps member Summer McDaniel helps at the College and Career Planning Workshop.

That means ensuring students understand different post-secondary educational options, from community college, universities and trade schools. Bright Futures Umpqua is also working to help students consider career paths, whether the jobs they may seek require additional school and training or can be fruitful after participating in career and technical education programs in high school.

“We’re working to connect students with local industry to pave the way for growing our own workforce in Douglas County,” Soderberg-Chase said. “So it’s important to help students explore not only educational opportunities but potential careers that are right in their backyard. We want them to find their best fit, whether it be a video game designer, lawyer, teacher, or plumber. ”

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