Senior Conference Puts Focus on College, Careers

Seniors learn about nursing careers from Spectrum Health nurse manager Rachel Kersten

Senior Cahari Rhodes is sure of a few things about his post-high school plans: find a school with a strong performing arts program and pursue a career that involves music and dance.

“I’m fortunate that I know exactly what I want to do. I’ve just got to figure out where,” Cahari said. “A lot of people don’t have any idea.”

Sisters Kaley and Breanna Mason are looking into careers in nursing because both say they are drawn to helping professions. “I don’t really know for sure, but I just want to learn more about it,” Kaley said.

Seniors look at the seating charts for the professionals roundtable
Seniors look at the seating charts for the professionals roundtable

All three, along with nearly the entire 400-member senior class at Grandville High, got to spend a half-day on Wednesday dedicated to college and careers during the school’s second annual Senior Conference.

Head counselor Sue Mattice said staff was looking for a meaningful experience for seniors while students in other grades spent the morning taking the PSAT. “We wanted to make it something special for them to attend, like a conference an adult would go to,” Mattice said.

Seniors chose one of four sessions, including a “state-of-careers in the 21st century” lecture by Baker College; one on filling out applications and sending transcripts; and the professionals roundtable with careers including physical therapy, engineering, finance, skilled trades, hospitality and law.

Head counselor Sue Mattice said the conference format was designed “like an adult would go to”
Head counselor Sue Mattice said the conference format was designed “like an adult would go to”

For session four, Francisco Ramirez, admissions and enrollment coordinator at Grand Rapids Community College, led a talk on all things GRCC, including how and where to apply for financial aid, why it’s important to keep up your grades, transferring to a four-year institution and GRCC programs and classes.

Sixty Grandville grads — nearly a quarter of the senior class — enrolled at GRCC last fall, Mattice said.

“We do quite a lot of career fairs, but this was unique,” Ramirez said. “I never got anything like this when I was in high school. I would have been so much more prepared, and I would probably owe less money.”

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio

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