MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marines and Navy personnel on station allowed a group of seventh graders from Wellton Junior High School to observe them in their daily duties for a job shadowing activity.
The job shadowing was part of the federally funded Educational Talent Search Program, said Lupe Lomeli, academic coordinator, ETSP.
The grant for the program is held by Arizona Western College and has recently been re-upped for another five years.
Lomeli said, the growth of the program in the Yuma area in recent years has made another academic coordinator necessary.
Students in sixth- through 12th-grade find assistance in getting on and following the path to success, said Lomeli.
The program primarily assists students who are from low income families and, for one reason or another, might not find their way to college without the assistance of the program.
According to Lomeli, many of the students are first-generation college bound, meaning, "nobody in their immediate family has ever had an opportunity to go to college or their family members have attended but never graduated."
The program tries to familiarize the students with as many avenues and tools of success as possible. The children are prepared for success in high school, college and beyond.
"We help them focus on some goals, get with familiar colleges and universities and also with careers," explained Lomeli.
The students are familiarized with colleges through trips to universities in Arizona during their 8th and 11th grade years.
According to Lomeli, a lot of students know that college is out there, but they are not quite sure how to get to it or how to pay for it.
"We have a lot of booklets on what it takes to go to college, where to find money for college and the overall process of getting to college," said Lomeli. "Our ultimate goal is to get them to complete high school and continue post-secondary education."
Lomeli is responsible for students at four schools in the Yuma area, and sees the students at each school at least one day a week.
The program likes to get students familiar with as many different educational and career opportunities as possible, and this is what brought the program and students to the station, explained Lomeli.
She said, "This is one of the few places where you can find people doing so many different jobs."
It's also a cultural experience for the kids as well.
"Most of them have never been exposed to the military lifestyle before," said Lomeli.
Having a chance to watch Marines and Navy personnel while doing their jobs was not only a chance for the students to job shadow, but also to observe role models in action.
"I think the people they are working with right now are doing more than job shadowing. They are serving as mentors and inspirations," explained Lomeli.