‘Infinite possibilities’ at Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan STEM Career Fair
Sun This week. Amy Mihelich. February 23, 2018.

2,000 attend annual career exploration event
The halls of Apple Valley High School bustled with students long after the final bell on Thursday, Feb. 16. From 6 to 8 p.m., local professionals in the STEM field and representatives from institutions of higher education connected with Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District students at the annual District 196 STEM Career Fair.
“We hope students walk away inspired with possibilities that they might not have known about before the fair,” said Apple Valley High School Principal Michael Bolsoni.
The free event was open to all area high school students and their parents. To make the fair more accessible, the district provided students with a time to socialize, study and enjoy free pizza between the end of the school day and the beginning of the fair. It offered transportation home afterward.
The students, who are already in the process of searching for career and college pathways, learned about specific industries, companies and organizations that will provide career opportunities in their areas of interest.
The high schoolers walked through the field house, stopping by booths to talk to professionals to learn more about becoming an engineer, nurse, actuary computer programmer, physician or any other STEM profession.
“Students learn about a wide variety of jobs and have the chance to talk to professionals about the training and education needed for specific positions,” Bolsoni said. “We have students who now have internships and paid positions with companies that they learned about at this fair.”
Attendees could also learn about STEM clubs in District 196, tour AVHS’s Fabrication Lab and enter drawings for door prizes.
Sophomore Bilhal Kone came to the career fair in hopes of learning more about material engineering.
“My brother is into it,” Kone said. “I want to study it too.”
Sophomores Stephanie Gomez and Verenice Becerril-Gonzalez said they are still figuring out what career path they want to pursue, but they came to the career fair to learn more about their options.
“You can understand these careers more deeply here,” Becerril-Gonzalez said. “You can see what you can actually do.”
Senior Hodan Ahmed is interested in a career in nursing or pharmaceuticals. She said she’s already begun taking medical classes and College in the Schools (CIS) classes focused on her career path.
“I already know what I want to do, but I want to meet some people who are in the medical field,” Ahmed said.
Beyond this one evening, AVHS provides career exploration opportunities through its E3 STEM program, which focuses on exploration, education and employment. This program not only provides students with in-depth college and career counseling, but also arranges tours of local STEM business and organizations.
The program allows students to take classes through Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College that provide job certifications and college credits. To provide more practical knowledge about STEM careers, AVHS arranges for students to have mentors and internships with industry partners.
Some students at AVHS, however, are not interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields. Several career fair attendees had other interests.
Senior Orobo Gitaa is interested in studying political science, but he came to the career fair because he thought it would be interesting to learn more about STEM careers. The extra credit his teacher offered was also an incentive, but Gitaa said he was glad he came.
“It’s good to see what’s out there,” he said. “There’s a whole bunch of things.”
Senior Amal Mohamed also wants to study political science. She is determined to become a lawyer, but she came to the STEM fair because she was recruited by a friend.
“There weren’t any lawyers here, but I still learned some things about being professional,” she said.
Although AVHS is a magnet school focused on STEM, there are still opportunities for its students to pursue other career opportunities.
“AVHS counselors work with all students on career exploration throughout their high school career in a variety of classes,” Bolsoni said.
The school offers specific classes in career exploration that help students narrow their interests in their field of choice. One such class, the Mentor Program, invites students to explore career interests and work with a professional mentor.
Although students attended the fair for a variety of reasons, each one seemed to find something to take away from it to benefit their career search. Bolsoni declared the event a success.
“We had over 250 presenters and over 2,000 people attend this year’s STEM Career Fair,” Bolsoni said. “This was a great success in terms of interest and support in STEM career fields.”
He thanked the community for its contributions in helping these students in this time of vocational discernment.
“We appreciate all of our presenters for taking the time to teach our students and their families about the STEM career opportunities in our community,” Bolsoni said. “Everyone had a very positive experience.”
All District 196 schools offer some components of STEM education. The district has established magnet schools that create a STEM pathway that begins in kindergarten and extends until senior year of high school.
The pathway begins at Cedar Park Elementary STEM School and Echo Park Elementary School of Leadership, Engineering and Technology. It continues into Valley Middle School of STEM and extends through Apple Valley High School.

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