For many students, their most vivid and long-held dreams revolve around what they want to be when they grow up. Through the Career Exploration Project, the Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC) is helping middle school students give their dreams more definition and figure out how to spin those ideas into motion when the time comes.
Last year, the eight-year-old program expanded to Yuma schools, offering students an up-close encounter with their dream jobs. Partnering with local business communities, the program builds modules to help students better understand the relevance of their education to their future and the way they want to shape it.
Nine modules are currently offered to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students in Yuma County, with plans for more to be added as bridges continue to be built between Yuma’s education and business realms. In classroom electives or after-school programming, students are immersed in a semester of construction, management and entrepreneurship, culinary arts, agriculture, health occupations, public safety, coding robotics, digital media or engineering and actively apply the information they’re given through activities that focus on workforce demands.
“They’re not just turning pages of pamphlets,” Yuma ABEC Project Lead Joena Ezroj said. “They’re getting hands-on, authentic and conceptual learning that changes their perspective of education and what it’s actually like to work in those jobs.”
Many students come out of a module feeling more certain about their dreams, eager to continue down the route to turning them into a career. Some realize they want to do something different from what they originally thought.
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