ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford Public Schools hosted the 11th Annual “Academy Expo” on Wednesday.
High school freshman engaged with area businesses and explored career opportunities, and it is safe to say that it was a success. One hundred three booths were represented by 500 industry experts showing what they had to offer.
It was a first step for students as they explore different careers.
“People didn’t know what they wanted to do in the future and stuff, and then going through this whole expo you’re exposed to a lot of different modalities, you know, a lot of different places and a lot of things for your career path,” said Gongmeyun Wagimin, a radiologist student at Mercyhealth.
Wagimin said that he was one of the kids not long ago. A short 10 years later, he was excited to return and be that person who can show students what could be a potential career path.
“For me to be able to communicate with the kids nowadays, of the kids that are coming in and letting them know what they can do and seeing their eyes,” Wagimin said. “Like, wow, I didn’t know that was an option, you know? It just helps out because I know I was lost at the beginning as well.”
About 2,000 students took part in the expo. They got to ask questions and learn more about what each job involves. The goal was to help kids make a more informed decision when picking which academy classes they take through the rest of high school.
RPS administrators said that it is important for students to see the options available to them in Rockford.
“The whole point is to try and find our students that want to grow within these different employers and go work for them after high school. It’s all about showing our students what options they have post high school,” said Jessica Hayes, workbase coordinator for RPS. “There’s a lot of things out here in our community that our students are not aware of; manufacturing, health care, business, and it’s all so important that our students see what options are here. There’s a lot of things happening in Rockford that a lot of people are not aware of and it’s really important.”
Wagimin said is now in his final semester at Mercyhealth, and he said that the Academy Expo put him on his path to becoming a radiologist.
“Pathway was huge when it first started, and I’m glad it’s still happening and everyone is finding their way, and I love this expo,” Wagimin said. “I think it’s a good opportunity for everyone that is here.”
The school district hopes to see more students, like Wagimin, pursue careers that they were inspired to explore at the Academy Expo.