Grant to Help High School Students
Formulate Futures in Business
N.J.- For high school students with big ambitions, the path
to high-wage jobs and acquiring the requisite skills is not
always clear. A new three-year $340,000 grant from the New
Jersey Department of Education has been awarded to the Business
Division at Mercer County Community College to help students
statewide start the conversation about their future careers.
The goal, says MCCC Business Professor and project administrator
Ellen Benowitz, is to provide an educational bridge from school
to work, making students more aware of the relevance of their
high school curriculum and better prepared to chart a course
for career success.
"Career and Technical Education (CTE) Partnership:
Enhancing Teaching and Student Leadership in Business, Management
and Administration, and Finance," the project has
four career-focused goals:
The development of statewide CTE programs that align
with New Jersey's high school Core Curriculum Standards,
as well as industry standards;
development of a CTE classroom module that charts
at least one pathway to a high-wage, high-skill or
delivery of statewide professional development workshops
for secondary administrators and educators; and
enhancement of student leadership opportunities in
career and technical organization.
MCCC student Natalie Tolle ('07) set
her sights on a career in advertising while still in
high school. Today she is an account executive
at Oxford Communications and is completing her master's
degree at Rider University.
to Benowitz, first steps for the project will begin later this school
year with the formation of two statewide advisory commissions -
one for Business, Management, and Administration, and one for Finance.
Their mission will be to identify business needs and current industry
credentials and certifications. Also on the agenda for the first
year is the development of a workshop for educators that introduces
the concept of career education and its relevance at the high school
level. The second and third years of the grant will expand on the
numbers of schools visited and teachers served.
says it's important to make education relatable to career goals
starting in high school. "If you are going to insist that a
student learn algebra, for example, there should be tie-in with
the real world of work. Students are more likely to put their heart
and soul into their courses if they see the relevance." She
points to fields such as carpentry and hospitality management, where
math skills learned in high school are essential to good business.
The grant will enable Mercer to build on its already flourishing
partnerships with high schools. The college hosts an annual Future
Business Leaders of America (FBLA) conference for 150 high schools
with approximately 4,000 students traveling to Mercer from around
the state for competitions and workshops. Additionally the college
has assisted high schools and vocational schools with curriculum
development and has awarded college credits to high school grads
for advanced learning.
Former MCCC student Natalie Tolle '07 knows the importance of career
education starting in high school. Now an assistant account executive
at Oxford Communications in Lambertville, she recalls that her first
exposure to the advertising world came randomly when she was a junior
at Bordentown Regional High School. A retired ad exec who was serving
as a substitute teacher for her art class gave an assignment to
create an ad. His reaction to her simple, direct ad was electric.
"Agencies take months thinking about concepts like this,"
she recalls him saying. He encouraged her to consider a future in
Originally planning to be a teacher, Tolle turned in a whole different
direction. By her senior year in high school, she had begun interning
at a local ad agency. Once at MCCC, she majored in marketing and
got active in Phi Beta Lambda, Mercer's FBLA chapter, serving as
state secretary for two years and winning national awards at two
leadership conferences. Tolle transferred to Rider University to
complete her bachelor's degree, where she reactivated Rider's dormant
PBL chapter. She expects to earn her M.B.A. from Rider in spring
Tolle notes that even in this difficult economic climate, she landed
a job quickly. The difference, she believes, was her interview skills
and people skills. "Lots of people have good grades and a good
resume. PBL really prepared me. I had a much better grasp of how
to present myself and how to succeed."
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