P2P career expo draws thousands to Mississippi Coast Convention Center

Organizers expect about 7,200 students to come through the two-day event that highlights 19 career pathways.
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 4:03 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Pathways 2 Possibilities gives eighth-grade students from throughout South Mississippi a close encounter with possible careers that are right here in Mississippi.

The career opportunities are quite literally in their hands, and they like it.

“You get to pursue your dreams, check out new things that you never knew that you were interested in,” said student Desman Vallery Gibbs. “And then, you actually become interested in it. It’s crazy.”

It’s also been eye-opening for student Marley Roland.

“It’s a great experience. It gives you a real life feel and everything. It makes you kind of realize how things are going to be in real life,” Roland said.

That has been the dream for P2P since it started in 2013.

“We’re creating relevance between what they are learning in the classroom and what they want to do in the future and, hopefully, thwarting the drop-out rate between eighth and ninth grades,” said co-founder Karen Sock.

Sometimes it takes a sales pitch, maybe some frozen cheese puffs; or a little something to make your head spin.

“I want to be a neurosurgeon when I get older,” said student Zykeria Grace. “And I went over there to deliver a baby and stuff, and it was like so weird, but it was like so fun and cool at the same time. All of this right here makes me want to go on different career paths.”

Gastroenterologist Dr. John McKee has participated every year.

“Oh, man. It’s worth it. I mean, this is the next generation, and it’s so important. I’ve been very fortunate, and I want to pass it along and make sure that we’re looking at a fantastic group of young doctors in the future,” he said.

The payoff is coming. Participating students have been tracked for five years through the Center for Research Evaluation at the University of Mississippi.

“And they have told us that, yes indeed, this helps students get confidence about what they want to do in the future,” Sock added.

Desman said success requires commitment.

“Believe in yourself, never give up on your dreams,” he said. “And remember, my dad told me this: If you don’t go to school, even if it’s one day, you will never have the chance to pursue your dreams.”

Organizers expect about 7,200 students to come through the two-day event that highlights 19 career pathways.

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