MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Seventh graders from two Minneapolis middle schools got an up-close look Wednesday at the opportunities their futures might hold.

Minneapolis College held a career fair in partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools’ GEAR UP program. GEAR UP is a federal grant program that helps prepare low-income student for postsecondary education.

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“This is a career exploration day for our middle schoolers,” said Heidi Aldes, the college’s dean of enrollment management.

The students from Franklin STEAM Magnet Middle School and Northeast Community Middle School received hands-on demonstrations in fields like aircraft maintenance, HVAC, nursing, machine tools, welding and architecture.

(credit: CBS)

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“Just the excitement around something new that they haven’t experienced so far, I think that’s what’s driving the students to actually be involved in today,” said Jeremiah Harris, the GEAR UP program manager.

Aldes and Harris agree that the immersive experience is an effective way to communicate the potential out there for the students.

“When you get to experience something and then go back and connect that with your interests and passions, that’s how we plant seeds with our middle schoolers to start dreaming about how big the possibilities are,” Aldes said.

Dakoda Aikens, Jailia Evans and Harmony Parsons were three of the students from Franklin. Photography and architecture in particular caught their eyes as career paths they may pursue.

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Eighth graders will visit the college Thursday. About 250 students will experience the career fair over the two days.

David Schuman