MUSCLE SHOALS — More than 2,400 eighth graders from six counties will have the chance Thursday and Friday to meet with area employers and college representatives at the Worlds of Work Career Expo at Northwest-Shoals Community College.

The event, in its second year, is hosted on the Muscle Shoals campus in cooperation with North Alabama Works.

Students from Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Marion and Winston counties will participate in the career expo in two sessions Thursday — at 8:30 and 11:10 a.m.

Friday's single session will be at 8:30 a.m.

The goal of the WOW Expo is to attract students to high-demand, high-wage careers available in the area. 

Students will have the opportunity to visit nine worlds — agriculture, hospitality and tourism, construction, manufacturing/automotive, energy/utilities, public service, cyber/IT, transportation and health care.

College officials said the expo will be representing 55 companies and college exhibitors.

"We're focusing this effort on eighth graders to ensure that they are well-informed about careers and the educational pathways available to them," said Stephanie McCulloch, assistant director of North Alabama Works. 

"In the night grade, students have to make some big decisions as to the path they want their education to take, and we want them to be as knowledgeable as possible when they have to make those choices."

Northwest-Shoals Community College President Glenda Colagross said the expo, the largest of its kind, can be a game changer for today's students.

"By showing them all the exciting opportunities available in our area, we believe we can help them get started on the best pathway at an earlier age."

High school students and their parents may also attend the WOW Expo on Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

The format of the expo allows them to speak directly with the businesses and ask questions. College representatives also will be available at the evening session to answer questions related to industry training requirements, and to provide financial assistance options.

The college's classes on the Phil Campus and Shoals campuses are dismissed during the WOW event. Student services and campus offices will be closed to the public for the duration of the event.

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