South Mississippi Strong: Inspiring students with Pathways2Possibilities

School systems in several states interested in P2P
7,500 students from the coast attended the 2018 Pathways2Possibilities. It's now a nationwide...
7,500 students from the coast attended the 2018 Pathways2Possibilities. It's now a nationwide effort, with school districts in several states showing interest.(WLOX)
Updated: Nov. 21, 2018 at 7:16 AM CST
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - For six years. eighth graders on the coast have been given a hands-on look at what their future could be, all thanks to Pathways2Possibilities. It partners students with pathways, in the hopes that it will help the teens find a niche.

“It’s something you have to actually experience for yourself," Project manager Paige Roberts said.

From aerospace, to health and sciences, the medical field, even engineering, students are seeing it all and truly beginning to understand the many possibilities their futures hold.

“We want to inspire these kids so that they understand no matter what your skills and abilities, there is a career for you,” said project manager Karen Sock. “Every child has gifts and skills that can allow them to fit easily into a pathway that will help them make a great living and also be happy in what it is they do.”

The program has grown from 6,000 students in its first year to 7,500 this year.

Dozens of companies and hundreds of volunteers participate, all brought together by Paige and Karen. Working with the Jackson County Chamber Education committee, they created P2P 2012. It’s modeled after a similar program in Mobile called Worlds of Opportunity. In 2013, Pathways to Possibilities lifted off!

“Now every senior group from 2018 on will have experienced P2P as an eighth grader," Paige added.

Paige and Karen said there’s a reason P2P targets eighth graders.

“Eighth graders are the same anywhere in this country. The challenges employers are facing are the same everywhere in this country. We’re really at a crisis level of this disconnect between education and employment. And this is a bridge to it that all encompassing. People sense that energy and they want it in their own communities," Paige said.

It’s not just a south Mississippi effort. Paige and Karen said in February, they’ll travel to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to host P2P for eighth graders there.

“We’re also working with a group in Tennessee. We’ve received them from Illinois, Ohio. North Dakota has shown an interest this week. And they all pretty much say the same thing, we’ve seen your video, we’ve heard about your program, we want this in our community for our employers and our eighth graders. How can we go about doing it? What does it take?” Paige said.

“It just really validated for Paige and I. I tease her all the time and say because of this need we’re going global baby, and she just cracks up laughing," Karen added.

The two will continue the movement because they love it. And they love seeing these eighth graders discover their potential.

Paige Roberts and Karen Sock are South Mississippi Strong.

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