JAMESTOWN - Hundreds of area high school and college students hopefully have a better idea of what the next phase of life looks like after spending an evening proactively mapping out their futures.
On Tuesday evening, Jamestown Community College welcomed students and their families to its annual College and Career Night event as a means of connecting students with members of the workforce and a multitude of regional college campuses.
The event, now in its 37th consecutive year at JCC, was free and open to students and community members as a means of allowing them to engage with representatives in their field or college of interest. According to Ron Turak, chairperson of JCC's College and Career Night committee, the event provides an ideal forum for allowing its attendees to make an informed decision on their futures.
"What I hope they'll take away from this is the value of information," Turak said. "The bottom line is that people don't know what they don't know. I think what's happening now, with the cost of education and with the changing work environment, is that there are multiple choices out there. Some of the jobs that we're looking at now we wouldn't have known about 15 or 20 years ago, so I think it becomes all that much more important to get in the mode of researching."
Turak said this year's event consisted of representatives from approximately 52 college campuses and 70 businesses in nearly as many fields. According to Turak, the wide array of options featured at the event can also empower its attendees to actively engage in their professional and educational development.
"There's always options," he said. "Especially now, when people are beaten down with the economy and so forth, and there are a lot of people struggling. I think one thing people hopefully find in coming through here is that it provides them with hope. Sometimes it just takes a matter of sitting down with people and identifying those options, and sometimes it takes deciding not to be a victim but to be the creator of their own life."
Providing an incentive for attendees to talk to as many business and/or college representatives as possible was the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, which donated a Kindle Fire for a giveaway. Visitors received a ticket to place into the drawing for the giveaway from each station they visited. Lisa Lynde, program officer for the Community Foundation, said funding for the Kindle Fire came from the foundation's Axel W. Carlson Fund.
"We're happy to be a supporter for the College and Career Night, and this is the drawing that will help encourage kids to be actively engaged," Lynde said.
Attending College and Career Night for the first time was JCC President Cory Duckworth, who praised the collaborative efforts of the community in assisting students with their decision making.
"It's an interesting concept of having the university and business folks mingling in the same environment, and having students be able to talk about their future lives all in that same context. It's awesome," Duckworth said.