Summer Career Exploration Camps at Thomas Nelson to Expose High School Students to Future Careers & Professions

Published: May 30, 2006

THE VIRGINIA PENINSULA — Some local and area high school students will be off to camp this summer but not just your ordinary summer camp. Thanks to the Office of Outreach and Recruitment at Thomas Nelson Community College, these campers will be on the fast track to charting their college plans and future professions.

The College’s Outreach and Recruitment office is sponsoring career camps for high school students in June and July, according to Dr. Crystal Taylor, Outreach and Recruitment Director. The first camp which will focus on the college selection process is scheduled for June 26-29 with activities from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the College’s Historic Triangle campus. Beginning July 24, the second camp will run daily from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. through July 27 at the Peninsula Workforce Development Center in Hampton. This camp is designed to expose students to a variety of careers and professions, noted Taylor.

The week long camps will give participants individualized career and educational development plans to share with their parents and guidance counselors for support in accomplishing their goals. “The camps are beneficial to students who are undecided about a career path so their participation will allow them to experience activities to pique their interests in specific career fields. These camps were initiated as part of formerly Tech Trails, a series of summer career exploration camps for middle school students,” she explained. “These types of programs will continue with minor variations but the main focus is to expose students to real world encounters in specific careers.”

The camps can accommodate 10 to 25 students. Students who will be juniors and seniors next year may be more attracted to the June camp since it focuses on college selection while ninth- and tenth-grade students will likely opt for the career exploration camp in July, Taylor noted. Interested students may contact career coaches in their schools. Career coaches are community college employees that work at local high schools as part of a Virginia Community College System (VCCS) initiative.

Thomas Nelson career coaches Minisa Chapman-Huls and Doris Parks will be facilitators during the camps. Parks is based at Phoebus High School and Chapman-Huls at Jamestown and Lafayette High Schools. Kenneth Bell, another Thomas Nelson career coach, is based at Heritage High School. They help students define career aspirations and recognize community colleges as viable means to achieve their goals.

The three coaches advise students and their parents of career exploration and planning opportunities and high school to community college transitional programs such as dual enrollment, articulated credit, Path to Industry Certification, and Bridge Partnership. Career coaches also advise students on career pathways accessible through secondary and post secondary career and technical programs, apprenticeships, and industry certifications and licensures. The goal of the VCCS’ career coach initiative is to increase the number of high school graduates prepared for employment and/or community college enrollment in a career and technical field.

While the concept of career coaches is not new, said Taylor, exposing high school students to individualized career coaches is unique. The VCCS-funded program takes an interactive and proactive approach through such measures as providing routine tours of Thomas Nelson campuses; offering opportunities for students to take college placement tests; offering college and/or career exploration workshops; providing real world exposure to professionals working in various careers and providing numerous one-on-one coaching encounters for students, among other hands-on methods.

“We are excited about the success of Outreach and Recruitment to date. We have excellent relationships with our local school systems and these collaborations truly promote strategies to help students achieve educational and career focused goals. We have made some positive strides in recruitment for Thomas Nelson and we have an array of initiatives on tap for the future to continue the pace,” said Taylor.

For more information about the Career Coach program or the Office of Outreach and Recruitment, which recently relocated to new offices in the Hampton III Building located at 525 Butler Farm Road, please call 825-2905.


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