CAEL's Career Navigation Platform Helps Siblings Steer a Clear Course to Credential Completion
by CAEL on Nov 17, 2023
Siblings Cassandra Munoz and Gael Munoz came to the United States to pursue college and career goals. First-generation students, they soon discovered that their high school diplomas would not be recognized in the U.S. Amid their research of different programs, the adult education program at Rio Salado College, a public community college that is part of the Maricopa County Community College District in Arizona, stood out because it supported their long- and short-term goals. Not only would it offer Cassandra and Gael classes to prepare them for the GED® test, but it also featured career training programs and support for college transition, including scholarship opportunities.
After passing their GED® exams and earning their high school equivalency diplomas, Cassandra and Gael each earned a retail industry fundamentals certificate through the National Retail Foundation, which Rio Salado College recognizes for college credit. They also entered Rio Salado's business entrepreneurship studies level 1 career training program. Aligned to local workforce demands, the program confers an industry-recognized certification that stacks into an associate degree.
Through their enrollment at Rio Salado College, which is a CAEL institutional member, the students received access to Connected Pathways, a six-region pilot of CAEL's interactive career navigation platform, Exponential Pathways (XP). XP is the product of a partnership CAEL is leading that includes the U.S. Department of Education, which is funding the initiative, Lightcast, Vantage Point, Junior Achievement, The Mentor Method, and the American Council for Education. As part of the Maricopa County, Arizona pilot, Rio Salado College included XP among resources available to several cohorts of its adult education program.
Both students have clear career goals, which include completing associate degrees in business and transferring to Arizona State University, and they found XP a valuable resource in working toward them. They said they were able to quickly immerse themselves in the platform, gaining a perspective of how the career training they chose within the program would align to jobs in their community.
Cassandra plans to earn a degree in sustainable design architecture, while Gael's ambitions include becoming a successful entrepreneur. The siblings agreed that XP helped confirm potential career pathways that aligned to their competencies. They especially valued XP's ability to track progress toward educational and employment goals while also broadening awareness about opportunities students may not have considered.
For example, the students reported that the platform helped them discover other types of skills they hadn't explored or realized they possessed. In addition, while XP indeed confirmed their leanings toward business/management career pathways, they said it also helped build connections, develop their curricula, and gain more credibility.
Cassandra and Gael also reported that XP was easy to use, with dynamic activities and spot-on recommendations. They valued its online access, which allowed use at the times most convenient for them. They encourage any students to seek out career navigating resources like XP, which can help direct them along a clear path and recognize what type of jobs or certifications are suitable depending on their future goals.