WINTERVILLE—Like most everything else in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic caused Pitt Community College’s VISIONS Career Development and Scholarship Program to change plans and hold its annual Summer Institute online in the interest of health safety.
Every summer since 2005, VISIONS has used a combination of tours, presentations and hands-on activities to introduce new participants – all rising seniors at Pitt County public high schools – to local career and educational opportunities. The program typically takes place over the course of a week with stops at PCC curricula and a tour of Greenville’s Grady-White Boats, since its owner, Eddie Smith, is the VISIONS program’s benefactor.
“Though we would have preferred to hold Summer Institute in person again this year, VISIONS staff were still able to help students determine the educational and career paths that best suit them by offering it online,” PCC High School VISIONS Coordinator Katelynn Speas said. “We managed to successfully adapt the program’s schedule and find ways to give them a true Summer Institute ‘experience’ while at the same time keeping them safe at home.”
Speas said the 2020 Summer Institute got underway July 30 and took place through virtual platforms several days a week for a couple of weeks. The revamped version, she said, included personal inventory assessments, interactive games, and Zoom sessions led by a variety of presenters.
“We wanted the students to come away from Summer Institute with a better understanding of their desired career pathways and feeling as if they had gotten to know themselves a little better through the personality inventories,” Speas said. “We also hope they got a chance to know other students in the program and maybe even learned something new that piqued their interest.”
Speas said Summer Institute was also a benefit to VISIONS personnel. She said it gave staff members a chance to connect with the program’s newest participants, learn about their needs, and discover ways to support them throughout their senior year of high school.
“The additional support system that VISIONS provides helps push our student participants across the finish line at the end of the year,” she said. “Our goal is to help them graduate from high school and make a successful transition to higher education.”
The 97 students who took part in Summer Institute were selected through a process that included an application and interview. They will receive various support services from VISIONS high school staff, including personal and academic counseling, throughout the 2020-21 academic year. Those who move on to PCC after earning their diplomas will continue receiving personal and academic counseling from VISIONS college staff in addition to scholarship assistance.