What do you want to be when you grow up? | SierraSun.com

What do you want to be when you grow up?

North Tahoe Middle School students had an opportunity to dream big Tuesday at a career exploration day hosted by Sierra College.

The career day, which featured an array of professionals from interior designers to firemen discussing their jobs, gave seventh- and eighth-graders a glimpse of their future possibilities.

“[The career exploration is] just to expand their universe in terms of what is possible,” said Emily Headley, who coordinated the career day with School Board member Bev Ducey.

The career exploration is one of several events underwritten by a $150,000 grant from the Chancellor’s Office of California Community Colleges that Headley and Ducey applied for on behalf of Sierra College in September.

The two-year grant funds innovative programs that will give middle school students a running start on their journey toward life and opportunity.

In so doing, the grant encompasses two major themes, empowering students to realize their full potential, and exposing students to a wide realm of possible career paths. The grant also provided a unique opportunity for Sierra College to partner with the local middle schools, said Sierra College’s Truckee Center Dean Rick Rantz in a written statement.

Earlier this year, Headley and Ducey led No Limits Thinking workshops for eighth-graders. The school seminars equipped the students with the tools needed to turn dreams into realities. Workshops were also held for parents, teachers and staff to further their support of the students.

“[The workshops were] showing them about the way their thoughts can either be their best friend or worst enemies when they’re thinking about their future,” Headley said.

Ducey also organized a Latino Day that was conducted in Spanish and geared to the Latino community. Sierra College representatives, high school counselors and several North Tahoe graduates educated parents and students about the opportunities before them.

Tuesday’s career day at North Tahoe Middle School was the culmination of a year’s preparation, Headley said.

The students voted on their choice of careers, and based on the vote Headley and Ducey invited 20 local professionals to illustrate to the kids what a day in their shoes was like and how they arrived at their career choice. More than 200 students participated.

“They’re just so curious,” Ducey said about the middle-school students. “The same child will pick anything from cosmetologist to lawyer. … They’re wide open to possibilities.”

Janet Scott, a local masseuse, demonstrated her profession by explaining how to choose music to fit the mood, discuss with clients how to help them, and even how to deal with stinky feet, while the students listened and asked questions.

“We’re not getting them to choose [a career] at all,” Headley said. “We’re trying to get them to open their minds.”

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