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‘Get Ready Humboldt’ - Business Leaders, Students Promote College - Humboldt State Now

‘Get Ready Humboldt’ - Business Leaders, Students Promote College

A college education means more opportunities in life, and a well-educated workforce can help a community thrive. Those two points are the driving force behind a new campaign called “Get Ready Humboldt: College for a Great Career.” It seeks to increase college attendance rates on the North Coast by inspiring local young people and helping families understand how they can help.

Videos and social media links at www.GetReadyHumboldt.com

The campaign features local business leaders talking about jobs and the value of a college degree, as well as current college students sharing their experiences.

“There are jobs here, and there are opportunities here for our children. They just need to be ready,” says Jason Ramos, the Tribal Gaming Commission Chairman at Blue Lake Rancheria. He adds that research shows a region’s overall prosperity is linked to college attainment.

The core of the campaign is answering “Why College?” and then providing students and their families advice on getting started and finding resources. Among the key reasons to earn a college degree listed on the “Get Ready” website:

• Over a lifetime, graduates with four-year degrees earn about $1 million more than high school graduates.
• In college, you build wider social networks, and that helps find a great job. An estimated 70 percent of jobs aren’t posted publicly – they’re filled by acquaintances or referrals.
• College graduates are healthier than non-graduates. They’re less likely to drink heavily or be obese, and they’re more likely to exercise and eat healthy.

Jennifer Budwig, Senior Vice President at Redwood Capital Bank, stresses that a college degree makes a resume stand out. “What that says to an employer is that you had the perseverance and the determination. You had what it takes to actually obtain that degree,” she says.

“There are so many foundational pieces that you learn in college that will help you for the rest of your life,” says Lane DeVries, CEO at Sun Valley Floral Group,

Two of the college students sharing their experiences on Get Ready Humboldt social media and at local events are Celeste Alvarez, a Business student at Humboldt State University, and Michael Gibson, who is studying Kinesiology at College of the Redwoods.

“College has exposed me to different people and to different environments, and to how to prepare myself for the job market,” says Alvarez, adding that expectations are higher than ever before. “It’s not as easy as just graduating from high school and getting a job right after.”

“I’ve always been inspired to go to college, because I just love learning,” says Gibson. “You have to take initiative, you have to take it into your own hands. What college means to me is an opportunity for me to better myself, my family, and my community.”

The Get Ready Humboldt campaign was previewed in October at an event for community leaders. They were asked to help carry the college message and asked how else they would be willing to help – so far more than 50 businesses and organizations have volunteered.

That event featured a keynote talk by Matt Welton, who is Director of Talent Acquisition for Adidas in Germany and also an HSU alumnus. It also featured a panel discussion with seven business and community leaders who are supporting the Get Ready Humboldt efforts: Chris Albright, Operations Manager at O&M;Industries; Jennifer Budwig, Senior Vice President at Redwood Capital Bank; Lane DeVries, CEO at Sun Valley Floral Group; Neal Ewald, Senior Vice President at Green Diamond Resource Company; Rob Holmlund, Director of Development Services for the City of Eureka; Mary Keehn, Founder of Cypress Grove Chevre; and Jason Ramos, Tribal Council Member at Blue Lake Rancheria.

Get Ready Humboldt is funded through an innovation grant from the state of California, which was awarded due to the work of the local business community, Humboldt County Office of Education, College of the Redwoods, and Humboldt State University to improve college-going rates in our region. Organizational oversight is by HSU.

The campaign began with the idea of reinforcing current efforts in the schools, primarily by making sure parents and families understand why college is important and how they can support their student’s efforts.

Humboldt County has relatively strong high school graduation rates, but it lags behind the state as a whole when it comes to college preparation and overall educational attainment. About 35 percent of the county’s high school graduates have completed “a-g” college prep classes, compared to about 44 percent statewide, which seriously reduces their options. In addition, 28 percent of county residents 25 and older have a college degree, compared to 32 percent statewide.

Most students in Humboldt County hope to go to college, according to a recent California Healthy Kid Survey. And while fully 71 percent say it is “very much true” that a parent or other adult thinks they should go to college, just 48 percent say it is equally true that a parent or other adult frequently talks to them about college.

Improving the involvement of parents and other adults is a primary goal of “Get Ready Humboldt.” Parents and family members have a much stronger influence on today’s youth than in decades past. Young people are more likely to rely on their parents and family for advice about college and other major life plans, and they are more likely to check in frequently for guidance.

At the same time, both students and families are less trusting of institutional messages than ever. So it’s important that local business and community leaders are willing to carry the message, and that current college students share their experiences.

More information, including links to video and social media channels, is available at the Get Ready Humboldt website.