Mission: Exploration Offers Freshman Academy Students a Glimpse into Real-world Careers in Lexington

While our Freshman Academy students may not be quite ready to start working on their resumes yet, after attending our first annual career fair this November they are now one step closer to discovering their interests and identifying their own pathways to success. The event, called Mission: Exploration, allowed 1,500 ninth graders from Bryan Station, Frederick Douglass and Tates Creek high schools to explore a breadth of industries and career opportunities right here in Lexington.

Professionals from nearly 40 local companies and organizations attended the event to offer students hands-on learning experiences, as well as open dialogue to discuss real-world careers. Hosted at Bryan Station High School, students were able to tour designated areas focused on in-demand industries such as Information Technology, Engineering, Trades, Medical, Professional Services and Emergency Services.

From learning how to extract DNA from strawberries at Alltech’s booth focused on biotechnology, to aiming and shooting real fire hoses with the Lexington Fire Department—Freshman Academy students got an inside look at what real professionals do in their careers. For many, the experience helped them identify which Academy they would like to choose after freshman year.

“I got to wrap an ankle, which leaned me toward wanting to be a sports trainer one day—so that was really fun,” said Frederick Douglass Freshman Hannah Fyffe of her experience with Eastern Kentucky University’s Athletic Training program representatives who showed students how to respond to sports injuries. “I knew I had an interest in the medical field, but after the career fair, I really knew.”

Bryan Station Freshman Kiara Hunter, who is also interested in the medical field added, “I realized that there is not just one type of job in each career field. There are so many different areas you can choose from.”

For Tates Creek Freshman Cassidy Porter, the experience spurred an interest in education. “The career fair inspired me to pursue my dream career in teaching,” she said.

Leading up to Mission: Exploration, students have been exploring their interests, studying careers and completing rigorous learning activities in their Freshman Seminar course to help them learn more about themselves, and ultimately, identify an Academy. By creating personal mission statements, completing personality and career assessments and establishing individual timelines, students were able to experience Mission: Exploration with a level of confidence in who they are and what they are drawn to.

“My freshman seminar has been so wonderful so far,” said Frederick Douglass Freshman Muna Al Shamdin. “It really makes you think ahead of yourself and your future. It has made me look beyond the doors of high school and think about what’s waiting for me in my career.”

The culmination of Freshman Seminar course is a final exam which includes a writing assignment that builds off of what they learned at Mission: Exploration. Beyond offering students a closer look at specific careers and the opportunity to speak one-on-one with local professionals, Mission: Exploration and Freshman Academy piques an important level of awareness that marks the beginning of a successful Academy journey.

“The biggest thing is that it gets them thinking,” said Frederick Douglass Academy Coach Shawn Hinds. “It gets them thinking about their future and how all of the pieces of their education connect to what they can do in specific careers. It’s about discovering what they do versus do not like.”

Tates Creek Academy Coach Amanda Wickersham echoed Shawn’s sentiments noting that the event was also a great way for students to interact with local industry partners, gain exposure to careers that are represented in their own community and further explore their personal career interests.

Bryan Station Freshman Ivan Hernandez added, “This event really got me thinking about how different careers work, and about all of the different opportunities. It was nice to experience new things that I didn’t know about before.”

If you or your business would like to learn more or get involved with The Academies of Lexington, please feel free to contact us on our website or reach out to:


Natalie Shepard

Partnership Manager, Business & Education Network

Commerce Lexington