Deciding on a future career can be daunting for many middle and high school students, especially since Texas House Bill 5 requires students to choose their career paths in eighth grade in order to identify which endorsements (academic tracks) they should follow in high school. Unfortunately, many schools lack adequate career education services to assist students in making informed choices regarding continued education and careers, but that’s where UNT High School Career Connect (HSCC) comes in. HSCC is an exciting new program dedicated to providing career guidance to middle and high school students through education and outreach by peer mentors.

Created in fall 2017 through a $1.6 million grant from Greater Texas Foundation (GTF) and housed under the Division of Student Affairs, HSCC partners with schools in Denton County to provide supplemental support in career and endorsement decision making. HSCC utilizes UNT student peer mentors who work directly with middle and high school students, helping them explore all of the career paths and options that are available to them.

One recent partnership HSCC made is with the Lake Dallas Middle School (LDMS). HSCC staff met with the counselors and administration to discuss the program and how they could partner to support the students, teachers and counselors in career guidance. As a result, HSCC peers now go to LDMS twice a week, and students (grades 6-8) are able to meet with them at their Career Center during lunch.

“Now we not only are one of the few middle schools in Texas to have a College and Career Go Center, but we are one of the first to partner with a university,” said Deb Stewart, LDMS counselor. “We had more than 90 students visit in the first two weeks.”

“The Lake Dallas Middle School eighth grade class will be better prepared to make their endorsement selection, which determines their career related coursework throughout high school,” said HSCC Director Cris Buxton. “Through one to one peer mentoring, ALL the students of LDMS will become more confident in their future choices as they pertain to endorsement and course selection, and eventually, post-secondary and career options.”

HSCC has created partnerships with several other Denton County middle and high school campuses that resemble this model, in addition to giving career readiness presentations and attending career fairs.

“Ultimately, our goal is to provide our services to all campuses in Denton County,” said Buxton.

With its early success, HSCC is proving to be a valuable resource for students and an asset to UNT.

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Contact: Ray Willhoft, 940-565-2464,