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Career day a strategy for increasing graduation rates

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Career Exploration Day kids at PNM booth

About 450 eighth grade students from Ernie Pyle, Harrison, and Polk middle schools visited with employers recently at the South Valley Pride to Profession Career Day at Rio Grande High School (RGHS).

Students engaged with 23 employers through interactive activities at the career-fair session. At another session a fun and interactive lineup of speakers – including some RGHS alumni – helped students make connections between their own lives and the kinds of career opportunities they will have after they finish school. During the final session, students toured the new Ninth Grade Academy.

The fair is part of a strategy to help students learn about career options in our community,” explains Mission: Graduate’s Executive Director Angelo Gonzales. “Understanding the wide range of career possibilities provides students with a focus on their future and an understanding of the purpose and need for success in their current coursework.”

Long term, the goal is to create a career exploration experience continuum from 8th grade through graduation that introduces students to careers in a wide variety of fields. Experiences can include guest speakers in the classroom, job shadows, internships, and in-school career preparation.

The hope is that when these students make a connection between coursework and potential   careers, they become more engaged in school,” explains Selena Hardy, Mission: Graduate’s Career and College Readiness manager. “Better engagement leads to increased graduation rates.”

Thanks to our partners…

The career fair planning team members included:  Anthony Aldaz, Lynne Antoun, Dana Bunge, Elizabeth Exil, Selena Hardy, Erin Muffoletto Baca, Suzanne Newsome, Jessica Nojek, Sherry TenClay, Danielle Thrush, Tessah Latson, and Leslie Hoffman.

Participants included: ACLU of New Mexico, Actor Eric Steinig, Albuquerque Police Department, Associated General Contractors of New Mexico, Air Force Research Lab, City of Albuquerque, CNM/STEMulus Center, Congresswoman Lujan Grisham’s Office, Department of Workforce Solutions, Explora, Kirtland Air Force Base, Mandy's Farm, NM Department of Transportation, Office of Contract Archeology, PNM, Roadrunner Food Bank, SAIC, Sandia Labs, Spice Gal Gourmet, United Health Services, UNM College of Nursing, UNM Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences, UNM Occupational Therapy, UNMH Division of Physical Therapy, and Villa del Oro.

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