College and Career Expo Inspires Students

By Garrett Shiflet | Daily Sun Staff Writer | February 11, 2022

Participants from Sumter County’s three high schools learn about their potential futures with businesses in the area.

More than a thousand students learned about the many paths they could take after graduation at the sixth annual Villages High School College and Career Expo. Representatives from more than 60 businesses, colleges and other institutions attended Thursday’s event at The Villages High School gym.

“This is a labor of love, with so many networking opportunities for our students and business partners,” said Tara Milow, enrollment and VCS campus logistics coordinator, who coordinated the expo. “We have a little bit of everything here, so it gives them all sorts of options.”

Students from VHS, Wildwood Middle High School and South Sumter High School learned about opportunities with businesses such as Citizens First Bank and Galaxy Home Solutions Inc. Some companies, such as Delta Air Lines, came ready to offer students part-time jobs or summer internships.

Universities such as the University of North Florida and the University of Alabama, as well as The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office and military recruiters also had booths at the event.

Aurdric Rojjas, a junior with the Agriscience Academy at VHS, spoke with representatives from Paws Animal Hospital in The Villages about veterinary career options.

“Overall, it was good.” Rojjas said. “It was all very nice with the number of vendors. They were very interactive and gave us a lot of stuff.”

Lisa Reilly, director of operations for the Angler’s Club and Ednas’ Hospitality Group, attended the event to find students ready to work.

“This is definitely a great opportunity to find staff, especially with the current job climate,” Reilly said. “We are really trying to find ways to find staff, keep staff, and get young people who are ready to work.”

Reilly was excited to speak with students with VHS’ Culinary Arts Academy.

“We are at the mouth of the river in terms of finding potential employees,” Reilly said.

Juan Montenegro, a junior with the Culinary Arts Academy, said he learned a lot about his options.

“It was interesting, just learning the different pathways,” Montenegro said.

Jasmine Proulx, human resources specialist for Citizens First Bank, also was among the many vendors

recruiting students.

“We have had a lot of volume, and students have been very enthusiastic, not just at our table but others as well,” Proulx said.

Students from the Business and Banking Academy at VHS have the opportunity to work at the bank on a rotational basis before they graduate.

“We have had students come and seek out our table just to say, ‘Hey, we are excited to work with y’all next year,” Proulx said.

Jordan Riche, a senior at WMHS, looked forward to stopping by the University of Alabama’s table to learn about its academic and athletic programs.

“It has opened my eyes to all the things out there,” Riche said.