WMU Home > WMU News >

WMU News

Area teens get up-close look at potential careers

June 12, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Some 100 high school students from around West Michigan and the nation will get a close-up look at potential career fields this month by participating in one of Western Michigan University's four summer residential learning academies.

The students have the option of attending the Aviation or Engineering camps, which run June 15-18, or the Fine Arts and Health and Human Services camps, which run June 22-25. During these 2009 academies, the students will stay in one of WMU's residence halls and have the chance to get a feel for college life and the WMU campus.

The four-day camps are free and allow select groups of 10th and 11th graders to explore all aspects of their chosen career field through a variety of hands-on activities, workshops and tours. Participants also receive information about college admissions, financial aid and campus life.

Jamail Larkins, one of the youngest Americans to fly solo, will be a special guest at this year's Aviation Camp. Larkins, now 25, became hooked on flying when he stepped inside an airplane at age 12. He went on to solo in a powered aircraft in Canada at 14; become the first and youngest student pilot to solo in a Cirrus SR20, a revolutionary certified single-engine aircraft with a built-in parachute, at 16; and branch out into aerobatic flying at 18.

Together with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Larkins founded the Dream Launch Tour, a national tour designed to educate students about career opportunities in the aviation industry and motivate students to reach for their dreams. The Federal Aviation Administration tapped him to be its first official Ambassador for Aviation and Space Education, and he has served as national spokesman to aviation-related initiatives for youths, including Careers in Aviation.

In 1999, the 15-year-old Larkins founded his first company. He subsequently transformed Larkins Enterprises into two successful business firms, one focused on aviation consulting and the other on aircraft sales and leasing. He continues to grow his primary company, Ascension Aircraft Inc., as well as serves as board chairman for Careers in Aviation and on the board of two large aviation non-profit organizations.

WMU's summer residential academies are a collaboration among the GEAR UP/College Day Program and the University's colleges of Aviation, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Fine Arts, and Health and Human Services. Funding comes from GEAR UP/College Day with support from the U.S. Department of Education, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth, and WMU and its divisions of Multicultural Affairs and Student Affairs.

The GEAR UP College Day Program provides opportunities for youths to discover firsthand the potential of a college education as well as exposes them to the information, knowledge and skills they need to complete high school and adequately prepare for entering and succeeding in college.

In Michigan, all 15 of the state's public higher education institutions are program partners and work directly with targeted secondary schools. WMU's works with the following high schools: Benton Harbor, Eau Claire, Fennville, Hartford and Kalamazoo Central.

One fourth of those signing up for WMU's summer residential learning academies will be attending the Aviation Camp. These 25 students, who will have a chance to fly actual aircraft, will spend much of their time at the University's state-of-the-art aviation education facilities at the W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek. The College of Aviation also funds an additional 20 students from around the country who stay overnight in a residence hall, have a chance to fly and take part in other activities along with GEAR UP/College Day students.

The 25 students enrolled in the Engineering Camp will spend much of their time on WMU's Parkview Campus just off U.S. 131 and Parkview Avenue in Kalamazoo. This campus houses the University's cutting-edge engineering facilities as well as its thriving Business Technology and Research Park.

The remaining 50 students participating in the 2009 learning academies are evenly split between the Fine Arts and the Health and Human Services camps.

For more information about the WMU GEAR UP/College Day Program, visit wmich.edu/multicultural or contact Erika Carr, program director, at erika.carr@wmich.edu or (269) 387-3319.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400