WATERVILLE — About 600 high school students from across the state took over Thomas College in Waterville Tuesday, as Jobs for Maine’s Graduates hosted its 25th annual Career Development Conference. 

The conference is a daylong celebration that gives seniors, as well as a few juniors, a chance to show off the college and career readiness skills they have gained throughout the year.

Aisha Omar,  a senior in the Jobs for Maine’s Graduates program at Lewiston High School, said she had no idea what to expect as she and her fellow classmates spent month after month preparing for the conference.

“It was really amazing,” Omar said. “We met students from all over — from the County, from Sanford. Everyone dressed so professionally. I wish I could do it again next year, but this is my last year in high school. I’m so glad I came.”

“JMG works with students from grades six all the way through college; giving them the support they need to succeed in post-secondary education and careers,” said Sherrye Haney, JMG manager in charge of CDC. “Right now, only about 31 percent of high school students in Maine go on to earn a college degree. This conference is part of JMG’s College Success Program, which was developed not only to get students ready to enroll in college, but to make sure they have what it takes to stay in school and earn a degree.”

Students spent the day competing against one another in a variety of skills competitions designed to get them ready for life on campus and for careers. The Campus Quest contest had teams of students roaming the quad in search of key locations, such as the Provost’s Office and the library. Students also went head-to-head in a mock college interview, judged by Thomas College’s admissions staff.

“We were so happy to have high school students from all over the state on our College’s campus for the day. You could feel the energy, excitement, and potential of these students,” said Thomas College President Laurie Lachance. “JMG’s Career Development Conference is successful in giving college preparation and exposure to these students. This event helps to get them in the mindset and gives them the confidence that they, too, can go to college and be successful.”

From left are students Aicha Omar and Adam Libby; Glenn Atkins, Jobs for Maine’s Graduates specialist; students Yasir Omar, Luke Madore, and Kim Torres; Mark Sirois, Jobs for Maine’s Graduates specialist; and students Khamar Jibril, Sam Gagnon, and Ilham Mohamed.

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