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Careers program gives students an education ‘roadmap’

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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ABEC Yuma County Locations

Centennial Middle School

2650 W 20th St, Yuma, AZ 85364

(928) 373-3300

Crane Middle School

4450 W 32nd St, Yuma, AZ 85364

(928) 373-3200

Castle Dome Middle School

2353 Otondo Dr, Yuma, AZ 85365

(928) 502-7300

Fourth Avenue Jr. High School

450 S 4th Ave, Yuma, AZ 85364

(928) 502-7000

Gila Vista Jr. High School

2245 S Arizona Ave, Yuma, AZ 85365

(928) 502-7100

Gowan Science Academy

1020 S Avenue C, Yuma, AZ 85364

(928) 539-1200

Ron Watson Middle School

9851 E 28th St, Yuma, AZ 85365

(928) 502-7400

R Pete Woodard Junior High School

2250 S 8th Ave, Yuma, AZ 85364

(928) 502-7200

San Luis Middle School

1135 Main St, San Luis, AZ 85349

(928) 627-6920

Southwest Junior High School

963 8th Ave, San Luis, AZ 85349

(928) 627-6580