Students learn from students at expo

Cynteria Goodson, center, and Brandon Woods present a defense tactic demonstration on behalf of the “Pre-Law” training station for students, including, from right, Zack Maxwell, Demitri Weeks, Terrance Jones and Austin Freeney, all of Buchholz High School.

ERICA BROUGH/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 12:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 12:59 p.m.

Malcolm Hayes, a 12th grader at Eastside High School who is interested in a career in nursing, said the Gainesville Job Corps Center 5th annual Career Expo provided him a good opportunity to learn more about the nursing career.

Now, he is seriously considering applying to the Certified Nursing Program at the Job Corps Center after he graduates.

Malcolm was one of 125 students from high schools in the Alachua County school district who attended the career expo held last Thursday in the gym at Job Corps. The Gainesville center is a federally funded program that offers career technical and academic training to youth ages 16-24.

"We're getting a lot of information and getting our questions answered," Malcolm said. "I came last year, but this year is better and more interactive. I'm considering applying to the CNA program after I graduate from high school."

Barbara Walker, education and training director at Job Corps, said high school students had an opportunity to learn about the center and to explore career training programs that included Advanced Solar Panel Installation, Automobile Technician, Business Technologies/Office Administration, Certified Nursing Assistance, Certified Medical Assisting, Culinary Arts, Facilities Maintenance, Protective Services/Pre-Law and Painting.

Also providing information were representatives from Santa Fe College, FloridaWorks, the U.S. Military, and SIATech/MycroSchool, a charter high school located adjacent to Job Corps.

Walker was ecstatic with the outcome of this year's expo. "We have an excellent partnership with Alachua County (school district) and we want to expand that partnership," Walker said.

At Protective Services/Pre-Law, visiting students participated in interactive activities that including learning defense strategies and overpowering an assailant.

At Culinary Arts, visiting students sampled foods created by the students, such as an assortment of sandwiches, peanut butter balls, fruit tarts and sugar cookies.

"This is what I want to do in life," said Toni Francis, a Job Corps culinary arts student who wants to pursue a career as a dessert and cake chef. Thanks to the training she is receiving, Toni said she will be job-ready when she graduates in March.

Toni recommended the Gainesville Job Corps. "It's a good experience and you get something from it," Toni said. "I'm learning to live on my own and learning a trade."

Nadine Robertson, a student in the Automobile Technician program, was one of the students providing information to the visiting students.

"I've learned to do everything," said Nadine, who also received her high school diploma at the center.

John Rollins, Career Technical Training manager at the center, said the career expo exceeded expectations.

"Visiting students seemed very energized, and the Job Corps students seemed excited to share information. I think the outcome is a win-win for everyone — the School Board and Job Corps."

Sam Haywood, student services specialist for Alachua County Public Schools, also was very pleased. "The students have been outstanding," Haywood said.

Daphne Jackson, workbase learning coordinator liaison at the center, was very pleased with the turnout. "The (visiting) students enjoyed themselves visiting each trade and they're asking about enrollment," Jackson said. "The Job Corps students are doing an excellent job of explaining their trade."

Lissa MontMarquette, who works as a para-professional at the Horizon Center, said this is the fourth time Horizon students have attended the career expo. This year, 16 students participated. "This career expo is a really good idea," MontMarquette said. "These are good programs and the students are job-ready for good-paying jobs when they graduate. They (Job Corps) are definitely on the right track here."

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