WINCHESTER — Umpqua Community College hosted its annual Explore UCC event Wednesday night, bringing students from the community college, along with potential students from local middle and high schools, together with representatives from local industries to learn about the career opportunities available in Douglas County.
Jessica Richardson, the director of admissions and advising at UCC, has helped organize the event since 2009, the second year it was hosted. Wednesday’s Explore UCC event, Richardson said, was the first to be held since it was halted in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it’s important that we grow our own, that we let this generation know that there are jobs for them to stay in their community,” Richardson said. “It’s not like we’re just showcasing what we have, but giving that students that opportunity to see the long picture. You know, where might I go to university, but also where I might get an internship and a job?”
Dozens of booths, most focused on fields in science, technology, engineering or math, commonly referred to as STEM, from Umpqua Community College’s different programs were present at the event, joined by representatives from local companies, government agencies, and four-year universities, all showcasing the options students have following their graduation from either high school or community college.
“I think events like this are great exposure for community college students to see the reality of moving on to a four-year university,” said Brett Jeter, a representative from Oregon State University at the event. “For the K-12 group, I think exposure to education is always a win, and STEM is the fun part…there are so many career paths that can be taken with a math, science, or engineering degree that students don’t always think about.”
Representatives from local industries, like the Bureau of Land Management’s Roseburg District and the Northwest Carpenter’s Union said that getting young talent to work in their local community is an important part of outreach events like Wednesday’s at UCC.
“We have some fantastic natural resources around here, so getting local communities engaged in that is really key,” said Cheyne Rossbach, who works in the Roseburg District of the BLM. “Having folks come out and work, whether it’s volunteering or internship opportunities, we have a lot of partnerships in the communities where we try to employ you, so any chances we can engage the local communities in having some ownership of their public lands is really key.”
“It’s an opportunity that brings everyone together,” Richardson said. “We have a lot of events, but this one, to me, sticks out.”
Will Geschke is a multimedia reporter for The News-Review. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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