By MCCS (SCW/SW) Jeffrey J. Pierce, NCG 2 Public Affairs Officer
Donald Kimp, a volunteer from NCG 2, welcomes students to the Pathways2 Possibilities career expo held at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center, Biloxi, Miss., Nov. 19. (Photo by MCCS Jeffrey J. Pierce/151119NVN34915)
Thirteen Seabees from Naval Construction Group (NCG) 2 brought their unique experience and expertise to assist over 6,000 middle school students during the 3rd Annual Pathways2Possibilities (P2P) at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center, Biloxi, Mississippi, Nov. 18 and 19.
P2P is an interactive career expo designed for all eighth grade students enrolled in private and public schools in Mississippi’s six lower counties. During the event, each student had the opportunity to experience 19 distinct career paths, each aligned with the career “Pathways” set forth by the Mississippi Department of Education.
According to Karen Sock, one of P2P’s co-coordinators, the main goal of the event is to ensure every student entering high school identifies a career path that fits his or her interests, abilities and passions.
HM2 Cody Charpentier (lower left) and HM2 Elijah Abrams,both assigned to NCG 2, engage students with a hands-on exhibit and provide information on the opportunities in the Navy’s medical community during the Pathways2Possibilities career expo held at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center, Biloxi, Miss., Nov. 18 and 19. (Photo by MCCS Jeffrey J. Pierce/151119NVN34922)
NCG 2 personnel have been a part of P2P since its inception. Initially, the focus of NG2’s efforts centered on the construction skills of which the Seabees are known. However, since NCG 2 also employs Sailors from many different military career fields, their participation was considered essential by the P2P coordinators.
According to P2P co-coordinator Paige Roberts, not every career path looks the same. Education and training required differ from one career to another. This applies to the military as well.
“We wanted to focus on the different opportunities and skill sets within the military as part of this year’s event,” Roberts said.
Members of NCG 2 were stationed throughout the convention center. In one area a tractor-trailer with a bulldozer affixed identified Seabee-specific volunteers who discussed career paths available in the Naval Construction Force. In another, hospital corpsmen engaged students with a hands-on exhibit, and provided information on the opportunities in the Navy’s medical community. Logistics specialists interacted with the eighth graders as they discussed careers in the Navy’s supply community, and NCG 2 personnel in PT gear focused on the benefits of health and exercise applicable to any profession.
Steelworker Constructionman Melody Wilkie, NCG 2’s assistant volunteer coordinator and the command’s P2P liaison, was surprised at the depth of the students’ questions.
“I think Pathways2Possibilities will open up a lot of minds. As I walked around the convention center, there were so many students who asked questions I didn’t expect from eighth graders,” said Wilkie. “They asked about furthering their education…what they needed to do to qualify for specific jobs and the salaries to expect. When I was in eighth grade, all I was thinking about was playing softball.”
CMCN Bryan Speciale, NCG 2, gives students a hands-on experience during the Pathways2Possibilities career expo, Biloxi, Miss., Nov. 18 and 19. During the event, Speciale spoke to the students about his experience in the Navy and about the different career opportunities available as a Seabee. (Photo by MCCS Jeffrey J. Pierce/151119NVN34946)
According to Roberts, the two-day expo hosted over 6,000 students from 26 schools from six counties. The 152 employers who participated brought 770 professionals to volunteer to make this happen. In addition, 150 community volunteers and 60 individual sponsors were on hand to support the 19 career pathways grouped into career clusters aligned with the Mississippi Department of Education.
However, Roberts feels the continued growth of P2P isn’t necessarily tied to the amount of employers present nor the number of volunteers and sponsors.
“What we see as growth is the activities within the Pathways,” Roberts said. “Our goal is to continually refine the quality of the activities presented to the students during the two-day event.”
NCG 2’s Commander, Capt. Paul Odenthal, came to the event to visit with the volunteers from his command and see first-hand the scope and breadth of what was presented to the students in his community.
“I can think of no better role model to inspire these students than our Sailors, some barely five years separated in age,” Odenthal said. “Sharing their personal experiences and professional knowledge, our Sailors definitely widened the youngsters’ apertures to the many career opportunities available both in the military and in the civilian marketplace.
“Pathways2Possibilities offers a unique opportunity to connect with these students and hopefully light a spark to where they start asking themselves what they want to achieve in life and what avenue they need to choose to make it a reality,” he said.
For more information on Pathways 2Possibilities visit www.pathways2possibilities.org or search Pathways2Possibilities on Facebook.