ALEXANDRIA, La – Kloe Proctor is a sophomore from Bunkie high school, she is just one of around 4,000 Central Louisiana sophomores and seniors to visit The Orchard Foundation’s annual Students Exploring Career Opportunities Expo.
“I’ve always thought about being a paramedic, but my mom always tells me I need to be a cop.”
Tenth graders must choose to pursue the TOPS University diploma or the Jump Start Tops Tech Diploma at the end of their sophomore year. That’s why Orchard Foundation executive Marjorie Taylor says their event is so important.
“There’s a really serious decision that they have to make at that grade level. That is to determine, did I want to directly go into the workforce when I graduate or did, I want to go into a post-secondary institution? So this is their chance to figure out what types of careers I’m passionate about.”
More than 60 businesses and educational institutions participated in the event which is perfect for undecided Grace Christian School students like Hayden Ganey and Cody Davis.
“I kind of came in just looking. No ideas before this.” said Ganey
“I’m kind of the same way,” said Davis. “I came in open minded and I was just looking around, seeing some cool stations, and its been fun so far.”
Grace Christian School counselor Marian Deville says showing students local career paths is rewarding for Central Louisiana.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. Many of our students don’t realize the different career options that are available right here in central Louisiana. And having these colleges and the businesses showcase what they have to offer, I think it’s great for our students. I have had several students tell me I’m so excited about this, but now they’re interested in particular careers.”
Getting a head start on finding direction in a future career is a relief for Ganey.
“It takes some stress off now and in the future. You definitely have some diversity to choose from, not just one set in stone thing that you have to do.”
And Proctor says the variety is perfect for opening eyes to routes previously unconsidered.
“There was one station with some girls from Alachua and they had some microscopes with different kind of bacteria. And I thought that was pretty cool because me personally, it’s kind of hard to tell the difference between different little ‘bugs.’”
The Orchard Foundation administers several components of The Rapides Foundation’s Education Initiative, including coordination of professional development institutes for Central Louisiana educators.
For more information on the Orchard Foundation visit https://www.theorchardfoundation.org/