Area High School Students Explore 21st-Century Careers at KU Edwards Campus
KUEC faculty and staff focus on students' entire educational journey, even before they become Jayhawks, fostering skills for 21st-century careers. From biotechnology and cybersecurity to computer science and the health professions, students and staff from high schools across the Kansas City area attend educational events at KUEC. Most recently, dozens of area K-12 counselors focusing on STEM education joined the KU Center for STEM Learning and the UKanTeach Program at the KU Edwards Campus for the "STEM Counseling for Success for Secondary Counselors & Administrators" event on Nov. 21, connecting educators, local STEM organizations and area employers.
On Nov. 17, students from Olathe 21st Century Academy, Blue Valley Caps, Summit Technology and Kansas City Kansas Public Schools participated in the inaugural KU Edwards Campus Biotechnology Day.
High school juniors and seniors collaborated with peers, listened to research presentations by KUEC students, attended a biotechnology panel session with faculty and presented their research in a flash science fair.
Frank Vovk, science chairperson for Lee Summit’s LSR7 district, took his students from Summit Technology Academy to Biotechnology Day with enthusiastic support and interest from teachers and the administration.
“I want to show these students the opportunities available to them after high school,” Vovk said. “At Summit Technology Academy, we support a pathway for kids from our school district to programs at places like KU Edwards Campus. Too often, kids interested in STEM are kind of dropped off after high school to figure it out on their own. Teachers are focused on lesson plans, administration is focused on providing a good experience, and this is their connection to the outside world.
October marked two more events at KUEC, connecting high-schoolers to potential career paths. On Oct. 25, 32 students from the Medical Professions Academy - Olathe Public Schools visited KUEC and met with professors, Randy Logan, Ph.D., director of the biotechnology degree program, and Jack Treml, Ph.D., assistant director of the biotechnology degree program, to perform immunology, microscopy and fluorescence-based experiments. Participants analyzed their own blood and determined their blood-type using laboratory equipment and resources. They also experimented with fluorescent molecules and learned how scientists have used fluorescence to spur a revolution in cellular biology.
Nearly 80 students from Kansas City Kansas Public Schools attended the Information Technology Workshop at the KU Edwards Campus on Oct. 24 and participated in web-design, cybersecurity, system-administration, and college- and career-planning sessions geared toward the IT industry. Local professionals joined KUEC faculty and staff to run the sessions and share higher education and career advice. Hossein Saiedian, Ph.D., director of IT programs and diversity faculty fellow, spearheaded the event as part of his ongoing efforts to serve underrepresented students. “I am continually amazed at our youth’s talent, excitement and readiness to learn,” said KUEC Vice Chancellor David Cook, Ph.D. “These are passionate students who are the future of our community, and they are already well on their way to making an impact in these fields.”
KUEC’s outreach to local high schools does not end at these large events. The Degree in 3 program is a partnership between Blue Valley Schools, Kansas City Kansas Public Schools, Olathe Public Schools, Shawnee Mission School District, Southland CAPS, Summit Technology Academy, Johnson County Community College, Kansas City Kansas Community College, Metropolitan Community College, and KUEC, allowing students to earn college credits in high school and earn their bachelor’s degree within three years from graduation. Degree in 3 coordinator and academic success coach, Lauren McEnaney, meets with students and their parents to discuss pathways in biotechnology, business, exercise science, information technology, law and society, molecular biosciences and public administration. Faculty and staff from these programs offer activities throughout the year when high school students come to campus to engage with the same professors who teach the college courses and discover possible career paths for these degrees.
“Think about the expense of college – you can’t affordably do a lot of career exploration there,” McEnaney said. “This kind of exposure shows students what they do and do not want to pursue. They can see what it’s like to be a student here and what their future can hold, even after earning their credential. Through our career exploration and readiness programs, we show students the amazing opportunities available to them in Kansas City."