This academic institute helps students to be more educated about certain careers. Tyler Hayes dreams of being a firefighter. Before today, all he knew about firefighters came from television and movies, but thanks to a new program with the Gulfport police and fire departments, he can learn the ins and outs of the business before graduating high school. Hayes says, "I've learned a whole lot more about becoming a firefighter. I've learned that there's a whole lot of math behind it that I will need. I’ll need the things that I'm learning in school." The program allows high school students to explore careers. The goal is to give them an understanding of expectations and hands on experience. Joey Payne, a Juvenile Service Officer for the Gulfport Police Department, says, "What officers do, they don't realize that when you make a basic arrest, that's about two hours of paperwork and so with this program, we'll be able to show them that and with this job, hopefully they'll stay longer." This program allows the students to ditch the textbooks and get real world, hands on experience, experience that they can't get in the classroom.
Sandy Commer, the East Careers Pathways Specialist for the Gulfport School District, says, "There's no way they can learn that from a textbook. They have to see it and feel it and experience it and see if that's something they're cut out to do or not." Hayes also says, "It's going to help me because I can get more involved. I'm more of a hands on person instead of ‘Oh, you have to do this and you have to do that.’" With this program, students may decide that a career in public service is interesting to them, or they may learn critical job skills and take them to college or to another area of interest. The program also helps the local police and fire department in building a local talent pool and prepares the young adults to enter the workforce.