Local students engage in Real Life 101 at Southern Union

Published 9:00 am Saturday, November 9, 2019

VALLEY — Some things they just don’t teach you in school.  For that, there is Real Life 101, a seminar for students hosted Friday by the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce. 

On Friday, 650 students from area high schools arrived at Southern Union Community College for a day of workshops about life after graduation. In one class, titled technical and workforce, instructors Eric Sewell and Tyler Nelson asked students why they needed to go to college.

“To be great,” one student replied.

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“Can’t you be great now?” a leader challenged.  “Why do you need to go to college?”

Answers included getting needed skills and being able to make more money.  But again students were challenged if college was necessary to obtain those goals. The instructors argued that it’s not necessary and isn’t for anyone.Real Life 101 was designed to let students know the choices they have. One of those choices is the military.  It’s what drew Truelaee Bailey of Valley High to the workshop titled military options.  He had been considering the Navy before the class.  He liked hearing more about the adventures sailors get to go on, and it seemed like a good place to get experience. Bailey said he might like to fly planes. 

Tamarius Scott of LaFayette High School enjoyed the session “reality after high school.”

What stood out for him is hearing how to prepare.

“You need a backup plan. One thing might not work out,” he said. 

Maci Harmon of Chambers Academy went to the workshop on interview skills. 

“They mentioned that everybody’s interviewing you, the minute you come in the door,” she said. 

She thought it was useful preparation. 

Other workshops included social media, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), college admissions (two year and four year), financial planning, and workplace behavior. 

Real Life 101 is hosted by the Greater Valley Chamber, in collaboration with Southern Union College and local business leaders called Chamber Ambassadors. 

“It’s an opportunity for students to engage with and tour the campus,” said Southern Union Administrative Assistant Mercedes Grant. 

“Each session is twenty minutes,” Chamber Executive Director Carrie Royster said. “The students choose three sessions each.”

The students get to choose according to their interests.

“It’s a good opportunity for them to find out what’s next,” said Valley High teacher Travis Engram.  And what’s next may not be college. 

“Some pathways are not for everybody,” said Valley High teacher Ashley Bledsoe.  “These topics are vital for their success.”