WU students use job fair to help youths grasp school's importance

by University Communications,

Jordan Tomas wants to be a police officer when he grows up — not so he can arrest people — but so he can save lives.

“I really like to help people,” says Jordan, a fourth-grader at Bush Elementary School. “It’s the right thing to do.”

To help students like Jordan discover their calling, Willamette University’s Tiger Club hosted a job fair at Bush Elementary School on Nov. 19. The event was attended by a police officer, fire fighters and a flight attendant, who explained the rewards and challenges of their professions to about a dozen second- through fifth-graders.

“The goal of this is to give the kids the understanding that these jobs are within their reach,” says Taylor Stone ’15, a Tiger Club leader who helped coordinate the event. “School is important. We want them to know it has a real purpose.”

Tiger Club is a structured, after-school program that provides mentoring and tutoring services to students at Bush Elementary. Established by Willamette students in 2007, most of the program’s funding is provided by the Hull Family Foundation, which promotes social justice, arts and culture.

To prepare for the career fair, the elementary school students were asked to write their own “resumes.” In the forms, they stated what job they wanted one day and how that job would benefit society.

The exercise — and meeting with area professionals — taught fifth-grader Danialle Pearce that “it’s hard being an adult.” But it also exposed her to the possibility of becoming a flight attendant one day.

“I want to go on an airplane,” she says. “I want to go to different places and see different stuff.”

A demonstration of Willamette’s motto, “Not Unto Ourselves Alone Are We Born,” the job fair was deemed a success by Claire Lee ’15. To her, it taught the youths the importance of receiving an education and working to achieve one’s goals.

“I think it was a very important experience for the children,” she says. “It brought to light the different details of careers they haven’t thought about yet. It was really educational.”