Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana recently hosted a series of events called JA Inspire, wherein JA students from area middle schools met and engaged with professionals from 15 Louisville-area companies representing a variety of industries and STEM careers. Through their conversations, students learned more about the fields and areas of study they’re most interested in pursuing. Interapt joined the event to talk with students about working in technology, describing how Interapt develops mobile products like Scribblit and providing them an opportunity to experience augmented- and virtual-reality via Google Glass and Oculus Rift.
I asked JA’s Sarah Wunderlin a few questions about the results of JA Inspire and where it goes from here:
What were the results of JA Inspire?
SW: JA Inspire served more than 400 middle school students from Jefferson County Public Schools. To bring the career fair to life, JA partnered with 15 companies with a STEM focus. JA Inspire was made possible through the support of The Dow Chemical Company and the leadership of Brian Callihan, Associate Production Director and Louisville Industry Park Leader. Brian led the charge to involved the Rubbertown companies in this exciting new venture. Pam Royster, College and Career Readiness Specialist at JCPS and JA Board member and Heather Gray,College and Career Readiness teacher, developed the curriculum and student workbook, and made sure all students attending were prepared and ready to interact at the event.
What did you hear from students, schools, and companies that took part in JA Inspire?
SW: Students were excited to learn about careers and the many STEM job possibilities that were only abstract concepts before JA Inspire. I spoke with one student that had an interested in chemical engineering from Johnson Middle School. He really liked having the chance to spend some time with the Rubbertown group. Another student from Johnson shared that she was interesting in becoming an obstetrician, so she made sure to spend time interacting with Norton healthcare and KentuckyOne Health.
I think students loved having the time to talk with someone other than their parents or teachers about what they want to be when they grow up. They were also very excited about getting to take home their own backpack that had lots of great items from the exhibitors in them. I think it was a fun finish to a great field trip.
What is JA’s vision for growing JA Inspire in the coming years?
SW: JA is very happy with the first run of the event. The engagement of the students and the willingness of the business community to spend two days inspiring students in our community is simply amazing. JA looks forward to growing this event in the coming years with the addition of careers outside of the STEM field. Student participation will also be added gradually and strategically to make sure we offer the best quality program to the students. We want our growth to be sustainable and mutually beneficial to the business community and to students throughout the region. It is our vision that JA Inspire will one day serve every 8th-grade student in our community.