Summer Institutes – Exploring College and Career Opportunities

Thelisa Lavergne“We are living in a world where what you earn is a function of what you can learn.”
Bill Clinton, January 1994

The decision to continue with a post-secondary education or just making the right career choice can be a very daunting and overwhelming task. The College and Career Institutes, is a collaborative partnership between Project Grad, Workforce Solutions and a consortium of local area colleges that help students explore college and career opportunities.

The collaborative helps students to foster a better understanding of several pathways to high skill and high growth careers and access a post-secondary education.

The College and Career Institutes provide students with opportunities to explore projected high-skill, high-growth careers and exposure to various college options in the Houston-Galveston area. The College and Career Institutes takes place during the summer months between June and August, for two-week intervals at different local colleges.

During the multi-day programming, students experience classroom instruction focusing on practical application of real life scenarios, development of job-related skills, determining cost of various lifestyles, and exploring the expense of obtaining a post-secondary education. The partnership between Project Grad and Workforce Solutions is an example of a “perfect blend of a workforce collaboration” Project Grad focuses on helping students to reach their highest potential and Workforce Solutions provides students with career exploration, job search development assistance and financial scholarships for high skill high growth careers.

Project GRAD improves the lives of low-income communities by helping students develop and achieve their educational aspirations. They start with students in the ninth grade and continue with students through college graduation and into careers. The Project GRAD staff and volunteers support students at critical junctures of their educational path to make sure they accomplish their goals, nurture their dreams early in high school, help to build their confidence and self-awareness, provide information and guidance, assist them with getting into colleges and, finding financial aid, and guide them on the journey from high school through obtaining a workforce certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. At every stage, Project Grad supports students and their families to help them navigate obstacles that might derail success.

Workforce Solutions provides career exploration and job related development for the Houston-Galveston area. Standing by its’ mission to “help you get a job”, “help you to keep a job” and “help you get a better job” Workforce Solutions accomplishes this by providing supportive services and resources to help students and adults fulfill their desired career or obtain a post-secondary education. Workforce and educational studies indicate that students benefit from career exploration because the majority of students will eventually enter the job market, even though three-fourths of them will not receive a four-year college degree (Pauley, 1995). Students need to be prepared to enter the job market, and this should begin long before graduation. Many of the young people leaving our high schools today are not equipped with marketable skills they need to perform the high skill and high growth jobs in our modern competitive economy.

The College and Career Institutes, collaboration between Project Grad and Workforce Solutions encourages education in preparation for a well-chosen career. By connecting education, career exploration, and job development to long-term job goals and earning potential, the College and Career Institute, provides students with a motivating incentive to pursue their college and career goals to reach their highest potential.

Reference:
Pauly, Edward, Kopp, Hilary, and Haimson, Joshua. Homegarown Lessons: Innovative Programs That Link School and Work. Jossey-Bass , San Francisco, 1995.

Thelisa Lavergne is a member of the Regional (Texas Gulf Coast) Navigator team for Workforce Solutions. She specializes in providing training and education to the Gulf Coast community, career staff offices, and employers in assisting individuals with disabilities. She brings with her over 10 years of experience and expertise working in the nonprofit industry serving Houston’s disadvantaged community; individuals and families experiencing homelessness, victims of domestic abuse, and individuals and families experiencing hunger. However, her greatest contribution to Workforce Solutions is her compassion, commitment, and dedication to serving others. She holds a M.A. in Organizational Management, a B.S. in Training and Development, B.S. in Counseling, and a Certification as a Personal Fitness Trainer.

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