Student outreach counselor Ruthie Cawood from Edsouth discusses college options and scholarship opportunities with Rogersville Middle School eighth-graders Wednesday. Jeff Bobo photo.
CHURCH HILL — Approximately 800 Hawkins County eighth-graders learned Wednesday that what they accomplish over the next four years will impact the rest of their lives, especially with regard to career and earning potential.
On Wednesday, Volunteer High School hosted the Hawkins County School system’s second annual “Welcome to the Future College Fair."
Every eighth-grader in Hawkins County, including those from Rogersville City School, was invited to take part in a program intended to show them how education can lead them to their desired career path.
Several four-year universities, community colleges and technical schools had representatives in attendance to answer questions and provide information.
There were also representatives from Eastman Chemical Co. talking to students about the types of jobs they have available, and the educational requirements for those positions.
Event organizer Dr. Michelle Harless asked Rogersville Middle School’s eighth-graders how many of them are scared about the future. A smattering of hands went up.
But when she asked how many of them aren’t sure what they want to do when they get out of school, a lot more hands went up.
“Guess what,” she said. “That is OK. That is one reason why we are here today. It’s OK to say, ‘I’m scared about the future, I’m scared about what I’m going to do after high school’ because these people will help you find some answers today.”
Every spring Hawkins County seventh-graders attend a career fair at the Rogersville National Guard Armory to give them ideas about career options.
Harless said eighth-graders attend the college fair to provide them with ideas about what classes they need to take in high school to prepare for various career paths — and whether that path involves a university, a two-year college or technical school.
Among the presenters at Wednesday’s college fair was student outreach counselor Ruthie Cawood from the nonprofit “Edsouth” organization which presents students across East Tennessee with college and career planning information.
“We encourage you to look at your interests, to look at your skills, to look at careers that pertain to your personality and represent the lifestyle that you may want,” Cawood told students. “Take advantage of opportunities to learn about careers by volunteering, internships, job shadowing, and working part time.”
She told students some of the skills employers will expect from them are basic math, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. Other traits sought by employers are working well with others, communication skills, being organized and being professional, Cawood added.
Cawood encouraged students to check out the website “planningyourdreams.org” and take assessments which will help them determine what career paths may be best suited to them.
The website also includes a college search, a scholarship search, and a resume builder.
One of the most important tings a high school freshman can do is start a resume, Cawood said.
“Next year you’re going to want to start keeping track of your awards, honors and activities you’re involved in,” she added. “If you’re an office aide, work part time, go on a mission trip or volunteer — anything like that you’re going to want to keep track of over the next four years, and then send that in with your college application, or scholarship application. Colleges and scholarship organizations like to see what you’ve done over the course of your four years in high school.”
Cawood added, “When you leave here today, hopefully what you got out of this presentation is that it’s important for you to be motivated going into high school. Finish out this year strong, and be motivated going into high school because there are lots of opportunities for you. You just need to start looking for those opportunities.”
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