Young men and women exited the buses from all around our community in hopes of finding a new career. What made this career adventure different were the hopes ridding their minds of the stereotypes along their career paths.
To this end, the Non-Traditional Career Fair at Arizona Western College offered 20 sessions – 10 for women and 10 for men – each with hands-on demonstrations and instruction from highly accredited mentors. In between, the students were treated to a lunch on this sunny, mild Friday afternoon.
“The ultimate goal of the Non-Trad Career Fair is to take students that give in to the stereotypes and cultural norms that tell them that they cannot do a specific job because of their gender and break these pre-conceived notions,” said Tiffany Tipton-Pavey, AWC’s Early College/Dual Credit Program Manager.
More than 300 high school students began their registration at AWC Schoening Center. Students and adults were presented with a quick overview of the day’s activities and given a campus map.
University of Arizona’s Yuma Campus representative, Allison Gillan, gave the students a brief overview of what UA offers here in Yuma. Next up was Dr. Russell Prust from Northern Arizona University, Yuma Campus on how students may enroll in both AWC and NAU simultaneously to get their bachelor’s degree from NAU.
“Last year they also had 10 sessions those students were able to choose from while this year we upped the number to 20 sessions that students schedule themselves to participate in using the career paths and professors of AWC,” said Tipton-Pavey.
A non-traditional career is defined as an occupation in which less than 25 percent of the workforce is of the opposite gender.
“The conference will give students an opportunity to hear from industry leaders working in non-traditional careers,” said Tipton-Pavey. “The goal of the conference is to give these future college students a chance to work with AWC, their local partners and faculty in two interactive breakout sessions.”
“This year, the AWC Non-Traditional Career Conference is hoping to provide high school females an opportunity to experience hands-on activities relating to careers in Fire Fighting/EMS, Law Enforcement, Welding, Construction, Automotive, Culinary Arts, Economics, Electrical, Informatics and Engineering,” said Tipton-Pavey, “while male high school students will experience career skills specific to Nursing, Early Childhood Education, Radiologic Technology, Hospitality, Massage Therapy, Sports Medicine, Graphic Design, Financing/Marketing, Accounting and Secondary Education.
“This year we have expanded to having informational booths during lunch with our partnering institutions (Northern Arizona University-Yuma, University of Arizona Yuma and Southwest Technical Educational District of Yuma) as well as a booth for AWC during the students’ lunch period,” she continued.
Guest speaker Araceli Rodriguez, an associate attorney at the law firm of Garcia Aguirre and Villarreal (P.L.C.), spoke to the group about the challenges that women and men have in the world today. She made sure to let everyone know that anything is possible.
“We show these participants AWC students and professionals who have paved the way for them in these careers,” said Tipton-Pavey. “They are able to ask questions in a safe and friendly environment.”
At the end of the afternoon, students boarded their buses with a wealth of new knowledge and quite possibly a new career path. They also left with the certainty that gender is not a defining factor in what they do, and they were ready to go out and make good things happen.
Those who have questions or who might want to get into a non-gender typical career should contact an academic advisor.