Annual event helps students consider careers, plan for high school and college

On Friday, Feb. 4, the Indiana University Northwest Occupational Development Program (ODP) will host more than 450 students from 11 area middle schools for a day-long program aimed at inspiring students to consider possible careers and the educational paths they must follow to pursue them.

In today’s uncertain economy, advanced planning is more important than ever for students who hope to succeed, and the Youth Summit gives Northwest Indiana eighth-graders the tools and insight necessary to plan their high school careers around their future professional objectives.

This year’s participating schools include: Griffith Middle School; Lake Ridge Middle School; Pierce Middle School; Highland Middle School; and Clark Middle School; among others.

Students will also have the opportunity to meet with more than 20 school counselors, 15 parent volunteers from 21st Century Scholars, and more than 20 program facilitators from IU Northwest and The Center of Workforce Innovations.

Students will also enjoy listening to Chris Bowers, a motivational speaker from the Indianapolis-area. He will take center stage at 11:30 a.m. in the Savannah Center.

Bowers’s life is dedicated to the positive influence and motivation of students through the use of humor. He is a dynamic storyteller and his hilarious tales serve to emphasize the lessons he is trying to convey.  Bowers speaks to audiences about the power they have to take risks and to have confidence in themselves. By using humor to build camaraderie with students, he encourages students to overcome their fear of failure and fear of what others may think of them.

In high school and college, Bowers began speaking in front of audiences such as student council, key clubs, and Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminars. He graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor of arts in political science.

Bowers has appeared as the keynote speaker for Indiana’s Student Council Representative Assembly and Iowa’s 4-H State Conference. On average, Bowers appears in more than one hundred middle and high schools a year.

Co-sponsored by 21st Century Scholars and The Center of Workforce Innovations, Youth Summit will feature presentations by a number of educational and workforce professionals, in addition to constructive roundtable discussions in which students may talk about their own goals with other students.

By day’s end, participants should have a better grasp of their career aspirations as well as an idea of what classes and subjects they will need in high school to achieve them. Youth Summit also allows students from different schools or backgrounds to interact in a positive educational setting, an experience that may lead to new friendships and a better appreciation for the world beyond the classroom.

The eight annual Youth Summit at IU Northwest on Feb. 4 begins at 8 a.m. in the Savannah Center and runs until 2 p.m.  Lunch will be provided for participating students. For more information, contact T.J. Stoops at (219) 980-6832, or email her at

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