Offers students views of their futures

High School students in Audrain and neighboring counties are getting a jumpstart on their futures.
Friday afternoon, some 350-400 high school juniors and seniors from throughout Audrain County and the region were presented the opportunity to talk with representatives from nearly 50 universities, colleges, businesses and branches of the military during a college and career fair, held from noon to 3 p.m. in the Mexico High School Sports Complex. The fair was sponsored by the Davis H. Hart Career Center in conjunction with MHS in the sports complex lobby. This is the second year the two schools have worked together in planning the event and the fourth year the fair has been held.
"I think it's good that they hold events like these, because I know a lot of kids that don't realize how many colleges are out here until they come to these and are blown away by all the schools they can go to and the opportunities they have," said Jessica Green, the Missouri Valley College representative attending Friday's fair. Green said this was her first time attending Mexico's college fair and that it was bigger than she anticipated. "Missouri Valley has been here before, but this is my first time. Most college fairs are usually smaller, so I was kind of surprised at the size; but pleased."
Among the colleges and universities participating were Drury University, Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary, University of Missouri-Columbia, Linn State Technical College, Hannibal-LaGrange University, William Jewel College, William Woods University, Truman State University, Central Methodist University, Columbia College, Rankin Technical College, Culver-Stockton College, Stephens College, Southwest Baptist University, Westminster College, Moberly Area Community College, the Advanced Technical Center, HCC and Cottey College, Nevada, Mo., an independent liberal arts and sciences college for women, offering two-year and selected four-year programs.
Area companies and businesses attending included the Missouri Veterans' Home, Scattering Fork Outdoor Center, Missouri Connections, Audrain Handicapped Services, Missouri American Water, Missouri Department of Mental Health, Services for Independent Living, Continental Products, True Manufacturing and the Mexico Career Center. The U.S. Marine Corps also had a table and a pull-up bar to amuse students as they waited to visit with the recruiting staff.
"I liked it, especially because the main colleges that I've thought about attending are here. It gives me the opportunity to come face-to-face with them and get more information about all the schools," said MHS junior Morgan Allen.
High school juniors and seniors from Mexico, Community R-6, Fulton, Vandalia, Montgomery, Paris and North Callaway attended the fair for the purpose of learning more about their post-secondary education options.
"I think the fair was very beneficial for the students. They really seemed to be enjoying it and as I walked around talking with the vendors they were saying the students were asking a lot of good questions and spending a lot of time asking for detailed information about the schools," said Christina Eick, an HCC counselor and one of the coordinators of this year's fair. HCC Vocational Resource Educator April Willis of Vandalia also helped organize the event.
Each student attending the fair was given red plastic bags provided by MACC to carry the information and various tokens they received from the vendors.
According to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, the top 50 occupations in Missouri that will have a better than average outlook through 2018 are grouped into six career paths: arts and communications; business, management and technology; health services; human services; industrial and engineering technology; and natural resources and agriculture – most of which were represented at Friday's fair.