Best Foot Forward

Hundreds of students visit Jefferson for career-building skills and to learn about college life.

More than 300 high school students visited Jefferson over two Fridays to learn career-building skills and get a taste of college life from University faculty and students.

Hailing from 15 high schools from Philadelphia to the Lehigh Valley to York, the teens belong to Pennsylvania DECA, an organization that prepares students for marketing, finance, hospitality and management fields. The University has partnered with DECA for the past several years for this event.

“Our DECA students love the opportunity to come to Jefferson,” says Jerry DiGiovanni, Pennsylvania DECA executive director. “When they leave, they’re excited about what lies ahead for them in college, and it makes their remaining time in high school more relevant.”

Two students preparing for roleplaying exercises
Students participated in role-playing exercises to prepare them for an upcoming DECA competition.

Faculty members from the textile design, industrial design, fashion merchandising and management, graphic design communication, finance, marketing and accounting programs participated in workshops on career paths and opportunities. For example, the students played “textile bingo,” learned what it takes to be a CPA and heard about some transdisciplinary projects at Jefferson.

Industrial design professor Todd Kramer and industrial design sophomores Lydia Mindek and Timothy Skill led a general Q&A with the visiting students. Many asked questions on how to best prepare for the transition to college, says Kramer, noting the high schoolers benefited from the honest conversations with their relative peers.

“They can talk to someone who knows what ‘Chicken Finger Thursday’ is like or who can describe an 8 a.m. studio,” says Kramer.

Along with the Jefferson sessions, high school students participated in workshops by DECA facilitators on resume building as well as role-playing exercises to prepare them for an upcoming Pennsylvania DECA competition in Hershey. Finalists will be eligible for Jefferson scholarships, says Justin O’Pella, assistant dean for academic administration for the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, who organized the event.

Faculty member Marcia Weiss shared the basics of textile design with the students.

Visiting Jefferson for the first time, John Noll, a sophomore from Northern York High School looked forward to prepping for the competition and building his skillset with people from around the state. West Chester East High School junior Lizzie Gaun also enjoyed networking with fellow DECA students and getting a feel for Jefferson. “It’s such a pretty campus,” she says.

Howard Brown, a business and entrepreneurship teacher at Northeast High School, brought 15 students to East Falls. The event particularly helped them improve their role-playing, teambuilding and communication skills.

“This is a great platform for students to develop,” he says.

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