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UM volunteers working at career expo in tupelo

By Edwin Smith

University of Mississippi

More than 60 University of Mississippi staff and students are working to get area eighth-graders thinking about their future at the Imagine the Possibilities Career Expo this week.

The event began today (Oct. 4) and ends Thursday (Oct. 6) at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo.

With the Toyota Wellspring Education Fund at CREATE Foundation as its lead sponsor, the three-day expo is designed to make eighth-graders aware of opportunities available after graduation. Some 7,000 students from more than 70 schools, including Oxford and Lafayette County schools, are expected.

“Our primary responsibility will be to manage UM’s various exhibits and engage with the students,” said William Nicholas, director of economic development at UM’s Insight Park and one of the organizers. “However, there will be ample opportunity to contribute in a number of ways. They need volunteers to check-in students, manage parking, distribute packets, distribute water, door greeters and so forth.”

Other UM organizers for expo are Ellen Shelton, director of pre-college programs in the Division of Outreach and Continuing Education; John Holleman, director of graduate studies in the School of Education; and Allyson Best, associate director for technology management in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Other UM divisions participating include the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, the Center for Mathematics and Science Education, the UM Field Station, the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies and the university’s Tupelo regional campus.

“The CREATE Foundation was created to support an improved quality of life for people residing in 17 counties in northeast Mississippi, including Lafayette County,” Nicholas said. “CREATE does a number of things to fulfill their mission, and this expo is one of them. Dr. Alice Clark, vice chancellor for university relations, serves on the board.

“UM is participating in the expo because we share in CREATE’s passion to connect with eighth-grade students and help them understand career opportunities available after graduation.”

Other Ole Miss organizers affirmed Nicholas’ observation.

“We want the participants to know that their experiences with UM can begin with summer programs for junior high and high school students,” Shelton said.

“The opportunity for eighth-grade students to connect with a wide variety of career functions represented at the career expo truly allows them to begin thinking about the world of work,” Holleman said.

The Imagine the Possibilities expo features activities connected to 18 career pathways: aerospace; agriculture, food and natural resources; architecture and construction; arts, A/V technology and communications; business management and administration; education and training; energy; enwgineering; finance; government and public administration; health science; hospitality and tourism; human services; information technology; law, public safety, corrections and security; manufacturing; marketing; and transportation, distribution and logistics.