Mt. San Jacinto College leads the way to a bright future in class and at work

MENIFEE – An Olympic gold medalist will join Mt. San Jacinto College next month to kick off a program designed to prepare young students across the region for college and careers.

Dain Blanton, a former Olympic gold medalist in beach volleyball, will join MSJC at Temecula’s Chaparral High School on Oct. 14 for an assembly on the Get Focused … Stay Focused!(GFSF) program.

The assembly is the first of 10 that MSJC will sponsor at high schools in the region to talk about the GFSF program, said Lori Benson, a career and technical education specialist at MSJC. She said she sees the program making groundbreaking changes in young lives.

“With Get Focused…Stay Focused!, by the time a student leaves high school, they’ll know what they want, and they’ll have a plan on how to get there,” Benson said. “It might be a community college, a four-year school, an apprenticeship and training, or it might be the military.”

MSJC is able to facilitate this program thanks to a $1.4 million grant to the Desert/Inland Empire Region to build career pathways and alignment between secondary and post-secondary education. To meet that goal, MSJC is promoting the GFSF program to help create college- and career-ready students by working with a dozen colleges and many local high schools. MSJC serves as the lead for the regional CTE Pathway Project (SB 1070) effort.

The GFSF program is used across the region from the Alvord Unified School District in Riverside to Indio High School in the Coachella Valley. It’s offered to school districts by a private company, Academic Innovations. In addition to working with Chaparral, Benson said she has plans to work with other k-12 school districts in MSJC’s 1,700-square-mile boundary.

Youngsters first learn about Get Focused … Stay Focused! in eighth grade. Ninth graders are immersed in the program for the entire year. Each student ends the year with a 10-year career action plan that guides them into the workforce.

During the 10th, 11th and 12th grades, students spend 16 hours a year on Get Focused … Stay Focused!  A community college version of Get Focused … Stay Focused! is offered for those who did not get a chance to take the program earlier. It’s called Career Choices and Changes.

Get Focused … Stay Focused! and Career Choices and Changes start by asking students to ponder three crucial questions, Who am I? What do I want? How do I get it?

Get Focused … Stay Focused! has appealed to students from middle school to college since it was introduced in the 1990s. Since then, research has shown that many students involved in the program earn higher grades and score higher on standardized tests.

While involved in the programs, students prepare personal profiles that describe their passions, their skills, their aptitudes – even their work styles.

Students are also encouraged to find happiness through a balanced lifestyle. They’re taught to examine several ideal careers, learn about budgeting and finance, gain work experience, and study how to make good career decisions.

Students also learn about the value of setting goals and solving problems. That includes getting the education and training they need and embracing many careers over their lifetimes.

“Life is what you make it,” Blanton said. “Always has been, always will be. Won’t you join me, so we can make every young person a champion?”

For more information, contact Benson at (951) 487-3438 or lobenson@msjc.edu.

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