Community colleges host career discovery fair to unite students and industry professionals

The Maricopa County Community College District will host its second annual Exploring Possibilities Education and Career Discovery Fair at Phoenix Convention Center Saturday.

“This event is intended to expose students and the public to the numerous opportunities available to them past a high school diploma,” said Felicia Ganther, associate vice chancellor of student affairs at Maricopa Community Colleges and program creator for Exploring Possibilities. “This is critical for our county because there is not another venue for people to explore what is available to them. What’s even more important is that there are displays and exhibits to help students [and] families and the community understand what a specific program or occupation does.”

The event will feature professionals from a variety of industries including public safety, EMT, fire science, cybersecurity, information technology, culinary arts, equine science, manufacturing and more, according to a press release.

“So often, students’ perceptions of college are driven by what they see and the people they know,” Ganther said. “This is limiting, particularly if they are not exposed to occupations outside the sphere of their current existence. Careers in fields like precision machining, nanotechnology, aerospace, health care technology — just to name a few — may not necessarily be options presented as a career choice.”

Exploring Possibilities is intended to be a catalyst of change to offer students the opportunity to “learn, see, touch and explore” current and future opportunities, Ganther said.

The event is especially unique because it unites junior technology education programs, community colleges, universities, businesses, nonprofits and public agencies under one roof for the sole purpose of helping people realize their educational journeys, she said.

Ganther said she knew last year’s event — which saw about 2,000 students — was successful after seeing the enthusiasm of the attendees and a call from the community for more programs of its kind.

“A parent who brought his entire family to the event came back to the registration table to thank us for putting on this event,” Ganther said. “One of his sons visited the Occupational Health and Safety tent and fell in love with the idea that he could do that job when he grew up. His father explained that it was the first time he saw a glimmer of excitement about going to college.”

The primary goal of the event is to bring people of all ages exposure and access to potential career pathways.

“Regardless of where a person begins on this educational journey, we want to provide them with information, services and community programs that will help them to be successful along the way,” Ganther said. “Finally, we want people to believe that dreams can be realized… For some, Exploring Possibilities can be that first step in bringing that dream to fruition.”

The Exploring Possibilities Education and Career Discovery Fair will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., February 2, at the Phoenix Convention Center, 333 N. Third St. Click here to register.

Graham Bosch

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