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Johnson leads Ozark Campus' Career Pathways

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Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus is excited to announce that Justina Johnson of Fort Smith is the new director of its Career Pathways Initiative, a program aimed at helping parents overcome barriers from receiving training and education needed to succeed in today’s workforce.

Johnson graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in history from the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. She has worked at Texas A&M University-Texarkana as a recruitment specialist, and at Carl Albert State College as an academic advisor for the Educational Opportunity Center.

Along with a new director, this fall CPI will feature an almost brand new staff, including Employability Coordinator Lynn Burns and Administrative Assistant Dani Stark, both of Ozark. Sandy Nelson of Clarksville has been promoted to academic advisor.

“My vision for Career Pathways is to create a program that helps students not only financially, but academically and emotionally,” Johnson said. “I want Career Pathways to be a program that gives to the students, and they in turn give back to the community.”

Chief Student Officer Richard Harris said, “Career Pathways gives students the extra advantages they need to complete school and find employment. The guidance that Justina and her staff provides to students is invaluable as they transition from school into the workplace.”

Johnson said, “We are restructuring the way program is set up so that each student is assigned an advisor within the office. The advisor will be there for the student from the time they enroll in the program though graduation and starting a career. We want to create relationships with our students so that we are more than books and gas cards to them.”

CPI provides a framework for connecting a series of educational programs with integrated work experience and support services. This combination of structured learning creates achievable stepping stones for career advancement and increases the pool of qualified workers needed by Arkansas employers.

The program may be able to assist eligible parents with fuel, books, tuition, supplies and testing fees, but assistance is limited by available funds and program guidelines and state priority goals.

“In addition, we are changing the way we fund our students,” Johnson said. “Instead of funding only a fraction of our students, all 257 of the students enrolled in Career Pathways will receive some kind of direct services, either through books or transportation assistance. In exchange, students will be required to meet with their advisor and attend life skills workshops.

“We hope that by teaching our students necessary skills, such as budgeting, interviewing, time management and study skills, they will become more independent and successful in school and life.”

Johnson said CPI will continue to offer its proven successful programs of tutoring, workshops, seminars and loaning laptops.

“We are confident that with the foundation that has been laid before us and the new ideas and energy that are being brought to the table, we will have one of the most successful Career Pathways programs.”