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College event in Hope and Texarkana gave area high school girls a taste of nontraditional careers

by Andrew Bell | November 29, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.
Students observe a welding class during the “Be A Model, Break The Mold” career exploration event. (Photo courtesy of Casey Curtis/UAHT)

HOPE, Ark. -- The University of Arkansas Hope Texarkana recently held the first-ever "Be A Model, Break The Mold," career exploration event for young women in Southwest Arkansas schools.

The event, which was held in conjunction with the Southwest Arkansas Educational Cooperative, was an opportunity for female students to gain hands-on experience in nontraditional career fields.

"Basically, what we're trying to do is ensure that young ladies and high school ladies are exposed to more types of careers than they traditionally go into," said Akili Moses Israel, director of Business and Industry Training. "There were several ladies who came in not knowing what to expect, but because they got to do hands-on activities, it made it real for them. It really opens up an additional pathway."

More than 80 students attended the event along with visitors from the Education Co-ops, Arkansas Department of Education Department of Career & Technical Education, local CTE teachers and the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce.

UAHT's Technical and Industrial department opened up all its classes, as students on both the Texarkana and Hope campuses got to see what goes into those career fields.

There were four career exposures on the Texarkana campus and nine on the larger Hope campus. The entire T&I Division participated and highlighted industries including welding, industrial maintenance, electricity, diesel mechanics, information technology, coding, business, solar power and HVAC.

Schools in attendance on Nov. 16 or Nov. 17 for the event were Genoa Central High School, Mineral Springs High School, Blevins High School, Fouke High School, Hope High School, Nevada High School, Spring Hill High School and Harmony Grove High School.

"There's nothing cooler than seeing a young lady in a welding mask and really being able to get into it," Moses Israel said. "A lot of times, when young ladies go into these kinds of fields, they do it because their dad was in that field. So, it's really about getting them more exposure because without that exposure they probably wouldn't even think about the opportunity."

They also got to hear from Cimarron Morris, who is an industrial maintenance instructor at UAHT, and Jennifer Teresa, dean of the Technical and Industrial division. They spoke to the students about being women coming up through the ranks in industrial maintenance.

"It was really about empowering young ladies to see these other opportunities that they might not have thought of," Moses Israel said.

Not only was this meant to be beneficial for the young women who attended, but also for local employers with vacant jobs that need to be filled.

"All of the careers that we expose them to, there are open jobs in our area," she said. "I meet with employers, and they're actively looking for these positions. Seeing that there's a need here, we really wanted to open this up to the local high schools.

"We're hoping that this is something we can do on an annual basis. The co-op is also really excited about this, and the response from the schools has been really good."

Moses Israel said UAHT is eyeing a similar event in the future for young men including career fields that might be nontraditional for them, as well.

(For more information about Technical and Industrial programs available at UAHT, call 870-777-5722)

Students observe an HVAC class during the “Be A Model, Break The Mold” career exploration event. (Photo courtesy of Casey Curtis/UAHT)
Students observe an HVAC class during the “Be A Model, Break The Mold” career exploration event. (Photo courtesy of Casey Curtis/UAHT)

Print Headline: College event in Hope and Texarkana gave area high school girls a taste of nontraditional careers

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