JA Inspire Connects Cy-Fair ISD Students to Area Employers

More than 8,000 Cy-Fair ISD 8th grade students from 16 middle schools participated in the inaugural two-day job awareness fair, JA Inspire, at the Berry Center Feb. 3–4. The event was organized through a joint effort from CFISD and Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas—a nonprofit dedicated to helping young people understand business and economics in the free enterprise system.

In its pilot year, the event featured nearly 50 speakers from different industries, including representatives from ExxonMobil, H-E-B, Microsoft and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, among other employers. Jennifer Anderson, executive vice president of education with Junior Achievement, said the idea is to get middle school students thinking about the courses they want to take when they enter high school.

“The earlier you can get these kids thinking about what they want to get out of their education, the better off they will be in taking advantage of opportunities in the long-term,” she said.

Students who participated in the event were divided into three groups that rotated between presentations in the conference center, displays in the parking lot and hands-on exhibits throughout the Berry Center's second-floor concourse. Breakout sessions gave students the chance to look at careers in STEM fields, business, industry, public service, arts, humanities and multi-disciplinary professions. Opportunities were discussed for college, junior college and trade school career paths.

Linda Clary, who spoke on behalf of the Port of Houston, said the fair also serves as a way for industries to reach out to students whom would otherwise have never heard of them.

“The maritime industry is reaching a point where people are retiring and we don't have the young people to step in and take their places,” she said. “This event gives us a chance to connect with students who don't know anything about the industry and spread the word about the jobs and opportunities available.”

Rick Franke, president of JASET, said he could not have been more pleased with the outcome of the first event.

“Just going around and seeing these kids engaged and asking questions, we know they walked away with a distinct advantage,” he said.

CFISD Superintendent Mark Henry said he expects the partnership with Junior Achievement to continue to benefit students. Even though JA Inspire is over, JASET also provided materials teachers can use to reinforce the importance of planning for careers.

“JA Inspire is putting into practice the very vision of [CFISD],” Henry said. “We are excited for this unique chance to collaborate with some of the brightest industry minds as they groom the bright minds of our next generation.”

Source: Community Impact News