Summer Career Academy Shows High School Seniors What’s Hot In Technical Education

Katie Pierce, a Highland Park senior, is looking forward to graduating and furthering her education. That is why she is trying to learn more about her educational options.

“I never knew about technical college,” she admits.

However, after having spent June 19-21 participating in the Dakota County Technical College and East Metro Integration District 6067 (EMID) Career Academy, Katie, along with many others, now better understands technical education and the wide variety of career options associated with it.

The DCTC and EMID Career Academy is designed to offer a select group of high school students a personalized look at nine possible career choices for which DCTC offers educational programming: nanoscience technology, business entrepreneurship, interior design, graphic design, exercise and sport science, travel and tourism, photography, landscape horticulture, and dentistry.

Students met with DCTC instructors for an hour-long session regarding each of the nine areas. They were given comprehensive handouts and a brief lecture concerning the respective field, followed by a workshop-style project emphasizing active participation.

In the interior design session, for example, students created a custom home interior, choosing their own furniture and furnishings. In nanoscience technology, they conducted an experiment that revealed the bizarre molecular interaction between water and cornstarch. And in business entrepreneurship, they formed teams to complete a ‘Mission Impossible’ centered on brainstorming a distinctive marketing concept for a mystery object.

“Career Academy exposes underrepresented students to career options they might not have considered,” said Ramie Chackan, director of career services at DCTC.

Chackan also mentioned that students involved in the program were often the first generation in their families with a chance to attend college.

“DCTC offers a hands-on approach to learning that boosts self-esteem and encourages individual development,” she said.

The students participating in this year’s Career Academy were from Henry Sibley, Highland Park, South St. Paul, and Simley high schools. DCTC and EMIT hope to continue this event annually to allow students to learn about new opportunities and to explore careers in fast-growing, technology-based fields first-hand.