MINT HILL, NC – On Thursday, March 17, Queen’s Grant High School will host a career fair for 11th and 12th grade students at Morningstar Lutheran Church
“There are so many kids that a four-year college just is not the path for them,” says Queen’s Grant College Counselor Sandy Ubriaco. “Whether they’re going to Central Piedmont or taking a gap year, they need to do something. I told them all at our meeting in September: graduation is June 11. June 12 you’re either on your way to a four-year, or you’re on your way to a specialty school or community college or going to a job because your mama’s couch is not an option!”
A mom of three herself, including a current high school senior, Ubriaco understands that every kid has different interests and strengths, and not all of them lead to a traditional four-year college. Moreover, in the face of increasingly selective admissions, skyrocketing tuition costs, and growing uncertainty that a college degree will yield a return on that investment, many kids are questioning whether an immediate transition to a four-year college is right for them.
“A lot are doing Central Piedmont because college is just too expensive,” offers Ubriaco. “They’d rather do CP for two years and then transfer. Other kids, their grades suffered during COVID. Or they’re like, ‘You know, I’ve been watching Mike Rowe and his show, and why do I want debt?’”
To reach kids like this, the Career Fair – the first event of its kind hosted by Queen’s Grant – will showcase three different options: community college/trade school, businesses that hire directly out of high school, and enlistment in the military.
Representatives from CPCC as well as several local trade schools will be on site: Blooming Heart School of Health, Universal Technical Institute, Charlotte Dental Assistant School, Paul Mitchell The School, Aviation Institute of Maintenance, Cabarrus College of Health Sciences and 160 Driving Academy. “160 Driving Academy is a truck driving school, and they take kids at 18,” explains Ubriaco. “Places like Charlotte Dental Assistant School – these are careers where you wouldn’t necessarily have to go to a four-year, but you do need training.”
Another part of the Career Fair will be showcasing businesses that hire graduates directly out of high school. It includes companies such as the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Aqua Tech Pools, Chick-fil-A, Griffon Masonry, Blue Dot Readi-Mix, Corning, The Call Center and Mint Hill’s Police Department.
“For careers, I really cast a broad net,” says Ubriaco. “We have everything from Chick-fil-A, who hires hourly, to a new one that I just got, ATI Specialty Materials. They produce nickel and titanium for aerospace application, and they hire kids out of high school because they train them.”
The career fair isn’t just for kids who aren’t interested in college; it’s also for kids who, for various reasons, can’t see their way to pursuing a four-year degree right now. Signing on with the National Guard, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean signing on for a lifetime career in the military. Representatives from the National Guard can help students understand how the military can help pay for college. Some companies that hire kids straight out of high school also have programs that help pay for college. “A good friend of mine whose children graduated from here, Pam Walker, she does the hiring for Harris Teeter,” offers Ubriaco, “and they have a they have a program where they’ll help pay for college.
Ultimately, Ubriaco wants Queen’s Grant’s graduates to understand all the options available to them after high school and make an informed decision about whether pursuing a college degree is the right choice for them.
Take a student who is interested in law enforcement, for example. “Some go to college and do a criminal justice program and then go to the police academy,” says Ubriaco. “Some just go right to the police academy. Both are viable options, but Mint Hill Police Department can tell them at the Career Fair if you go into the police academy you could expect this salary, if you have a criminal justice degree, you can expect this salary,” she continues. “That information can make a difference to a kid who wants to be a detective or go into forensics.”
Any current 11th or 12th grade student may attend the Queen’s Grant Career Fair on Thursday, March 17. Students from other schools are welcome. The event will take place at Morningstar Lutheran Church from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm. Students should dress professionally and bring a resume. Contact Sandy Ubriaco at (704) 496-7475 or email@example.com for additional information.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to see here because I know a lot of times the kids who aren’t going on to a four-year feel left out,” says Ubriaco. “They feel like everything is geared toward the college-going kids. If this gets even one kid from the couch to a job, then it was worth it.”