MTSU stamps Mitchell-Neilson students’ ‘Passports to Success’

When was the last time you went to a career fair that featured basketball, face painting and a beanbag toss?

Students at Mitchell-Neilson School in Murfreesboro enjoyed all of that and more May 5 as MTSU students in the “Family Centered Community Building II” class hosted a “Passport to Success” in the school gymnasium.

Youngsters in third through sixth grades received “passports” upon entering the gym and had them stamped at each table they visited. They could have their photos taken wearing the clothes of the jobs they might like to embrace in the future.

Tables promoted various disciplines in MTSU’s College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, including fashion design, physical education, athletic training, and leisure, sport and tourism.

The Rutherford County Health Department also was on hand to promote healthy eating habits.

In addition to allowing the youngsters to blow off steam after their TCAP exams, the fair gave them “exposure to potential future careers with the hope that they would dream and aspire to be something very specific,” said Claire Cook, an assistant professor in the MTSU Department of Human Sciences who teaches the class.

Cook said she designed the “skeleton” of the project with Mitchell-Neilson Principal Robin Newell, adding that service-learning endeavors like this one prepare students for their future lives in “helping” careers in two ways.

“One is understanding how you take an idea and a need … and building on that … and learning a little bit more about what we do in a professional setting and how we help,” Cook said.

Amber Dresch, a senior from Nashville, Tennessee, majoring in family and consumer studies, laid the groundwork by talking to Mitchell-Neilson students in advance and finding out about their interests.

“We were able to get to know some of the students on an individual basis as well,” Dresch said.

Two such students, fifth-graders Jasmine and Vanessa Gonzalez, donned identical white doctor’s coats and held dry-erase boards proclaiming their mutual desire to become doctors while an MTSU student snapped their photos.

The Gonzalez sisters said they want to be doctors because they have wanted to help people ever since the first grade.

Other youngsters huddled in front of the chemistry table, where a man demonstrated the wonders of Alka-Seltzer as it released carbon dioxide in a small beaker of water.

MTSU students designed “Passport to Success” with a grant from the Collaborative Learning and Leadership Institute, a partnership between the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences and Murfreesboro City Schools.

The institute’s mission is to help students make the connection between achieving academic success today and creating their own personal and professional success tomorrow.

For more information, contact the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences at 615-898-2900 or Mitchell-Neilson Principal Robin Newell at 615-890-7841.