The path to college and careers most often begins in high school, at a time when many students and families may feel overwhelmed by the application process, expectation of financial burden or career choices they face. But now, students and community members in Battle Creek have a place to turn to for help with exploring career paths, college and scholarship applications.
The GVSU Battle Creek Outreach Center, which opened Nov. 4, aims to help students of all ages, said Matthew Bozzo, a career navigator at the outreach center and former college adviser at Battle Creek Central High School.
“The vision of the center is a centralized hub for community members, students or just even adults who maybe want to have a job change or are interested in pursuing higher education,” Bozzo said. “The center’s mission is to be a central hub to get any kind of access to educational resources to support students pursuing college, wherever they’re going.”
Bozzo said that the center will focus on three main services: career exploration, college advising and scholarship and financial aid exploration. Bozzo said the center is also looking into hosting free events in the Battle Creek community.
“We’re looking towards potentially hosting and facilitating different events throughout the community, relating to financial aid, college advising and career exploration,” Bozzo said.
Deborah Nuzzi, Director of Secondary Education for Battle Creek Public Schools (BCPS), said that she was impressed by the approach GVSU took to working with the needs of the community.
“GVSU has been such an amazing partner because they came to us asking, ‘What do you need?’ ‘How can we use our resources to meet the needs of your high school and your community?’” Nuzzi said. “It’s not a one-stop-shop, here it is. They’re open to continuing to partner with us to see what it needs to become.”
BCPS Communications Manager Nathan Hunt said that services offered by the outreach center will help to support their Career Academy program and goal of making sure each student graduating from BCPS is career, college and community ready.
“High school students are learning about career opportunities and they’re focused on career exploration,” Hunt said. “During year two, they’re starting to go out and get experience in some of the workplaces first hand. Throughout the rest of their high school career, they develop a career pathway and they’re focused on that.”
Nuzzi said BCPS is excited that the outreach center will offer services and opportunities to members of the community who may not have access to them otherwise.
“For us, this is about equity,” Nuzzi said. “This is providing opportunities and experiences in every possible way that we can.”
Both Nuzzi and Bozzo said it is important for students as well as their families to learn and become familiar with options available after high school and how to achieve them.
“It’s really important that we plant that seed early and making sure that students and families are aware of all the different kinds of opportunities and the importance of college and higher education,” Bozzo said.