A first-time college fair at South Edgecombe Middle School Friday morning got students thinking about their future.
“It’s been really fun,” said Chelsea Davis, a seventh grader who aspires to be a pediatrician. “I think I want to go to ECU [East Carolina University.]”
Davis visited ECU’s booth along with several others and learned more about college requirements.
“I want to help little kids,” Davis said. “When they get sick, I want to help them so [they’ll] know that somebody’s there.”
Davis decided to enter the healthcare profession “so I can make my grandma proud.” Her grandma passed away in 2007, and Davis said she didn’t get the medical help that she needed.
Davis isn’t the only student at South Edgecombe who has decided on a career path.
“I want to do culinary arts,” said Kendra Revis, also a seventh grader. One of the schools that attended the college fair, Nash Community College, offers a culinary arts program.
“I think it [the fair] was good and it helped people see what college they want to go to and what the college supports,” Revis said.
Lanie Barry, also a seventh grader, said she learned about different schools and “how many years you have to be in and what classes you have to take.”
“I like kids,” said Barry, who aspires to become a middle-school math teacher. Her school of choice is the University of North Carolina.
“We just want to expose the kids at an early age to colleges,” said Susan Joy Pitts, South Edgecombe’s guidance counselor and career fair coordinator. “They need to start thinking beyond high school. It’s the catalyst of putting that idea in their mind of where they want to go, what they want to do.”
Pitts kept the students at the fair engaged with a scavenger hunt that required them to ask the college representatives questions such as whether the school was public or private, and a two-year or four-year institution.
“Exposure is priceless,” said Mattie Gaddy-Parks, admissions counselor for the School of Science and Math, a residential high school in Durham for 11th and 12th grade students. “If you don’t know about something, you can apply, but are you prepared?”
Gaddy-Parks stressed the importance of exposing students to college and career opportunities before the ninth grade, when disengaged students begin dropping out of school.
“This ]middle school] is when they’re learning themselves,” Gaddy-Parks said. “If they’ve already found something that’s really piqued their interest, then they’ll stay in school.”
“They need to know that their attendance, academics and behavior are important,” Pitts said. She declared the school’s first career fair “a success,” adding that many of the school staff wore their college sweatshirts to show their support.