PAW PAW, Mich. — West Michigan high school students who are enrolled in a summer learning program got to hear about local employment opportunities from area community and business professionals.
It's all retaining local talent and teaching high school students that there isn't just one traditional way to end up in a career path.
A partnership between Paw Paw High School and Market Van Buren shared the success stories of local people to prove just that.
"When we push kids only one direction, we are ignoring a whole range of opportunities for them," said Paw Paw High School Principal Tammy Southworth.
Around 50 students gathered in the Paw Paw High School's Performing Arts Center on Wednesday as part of a summer learning program.
Mykenzie Ewert is heading into her junior year. From listening to the speakers, she realized it's okay to not know what she wants to do right away.
"I’m not going to go right into college because I want to take some time to figure out what I want to do with my life," said Paw Paw High School Rising Junior Mykenzie Ewert.
A group of five area community and business professionals gathered in the auditorium to tell students their stories of what success can look like.
About 50 students at @PawPawHS enrolled in summer learning programs are learning about local employment opportunities available to grads.— Lauren Kummer (@LaurenKummerTV) July 7, 2021
It’s a partnership with @MarketVanBuren to bring area community & business leaders to talk about life experiences leading to success. @FOX17 pic.twitter.com/QPYHQsX2sU
It was all through a partnership with Market Van Buren and Paw Paw High School's Summer Learning Program.
"Five different people with five different backgrounds and five different career choices, and when you look out into the audience, we have 55 students with all different stories and all different unique talents and abilities wondering what they want to do for the rest of their life," said Market Van Buren Executive Director Zach Morris.
The focus was to have students think about what they like to do and think of jobs where they can get paid doing that.
"If you can do that, then it is going to be an enjoyable experience for you, and you’re not going to struggle as much like if you had to take a job you didn’t necessarily like," said Ewert.
Some of those paths may not include the traditional college or university degree either, according to some of the speakers.
Like many of the successful people who spoke to the students, everyone has their own way of getting there.
"I think a lot of our kids hear and think 'college, college, college,' and while I’m a huge proponent of college, it is not the path for everyone. There are a million jobs in the community that don’t require a college degree," said Southworth.
"It doesn’t matter what they do; they can be successful. If they just put the time, energy, and effort towards it, they will figure it out," said Morris.
Later this summer, Market Van Buren will further students' learning by offering up the opportunity for them to visit local job sites focusing on trade work to give them more of an idea to what all goes into the careers.