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More than 300 parents and students participated in the Jan. 23 event, which was coordinated by Mihyeon Kim and Jennifer Huebner. The purpose of the conference was to help foster appropriate career development in middle and high school students. Through this event, Tracy Cross, executive director at the Center for Gifted Education, was pleased to bring together William & Mary faculty, staff and students from various departments across the campus in order to provide insights into their professional areas to young students and their parents.
William & Mary student volunteers enjoyed being part of this event by sharing their college-related experiences and thoughts with young students and their parents. Presenters were pleased to meet with young people aspiring to enter into their professional areas and serve their community. During their visit, the parents who attended delved into topics ranging from practical information, such as SAT or ACT information sessions, to characteristics of the social and emotional development of gifted students. There were two opening sessions with a Q&A moderated by Virginia McLaughlin, dean of the School of Education, and academic planning for middle school students by Ellen Fithian. Those two opening sessions inspired parents with insights into admissions and other valuable information.
A participating parent said: "The most beneficial part of this program was information to help me prepare for my 1st child's entry into college and my 7th grade child realize his areas of interest and how they can lead to an area of study that leads to a career. The program gave me a jumping off point. It helped me think about things I need to do to help my child be better prepared for the college application process."
Another parent was thankful that "my child was exposed to all of the issues about ‘getting in' so now what I say as the parent is validated. You've moved our conversation ahead."
A common myth about high-achieving students is that they do not to need help; however, gifted adolescents need proper career education as much as other students. Through this program, students had chance to explore different areas in a variety of professions, and think about their career options more seriously.
One student mentioned, "It gives me more ideas that have broadened my horizons about the different career opportunities that are possible for me."
Another student commented, "This program deepened my knowledge and gave me unique viewpoints."
The Focusing on the Future conference created a comfort zone for students in terms of going to college and being prepared for their future.