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North Marion High School opened its doors for the first College & Trade School Preview Night

PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Parents and students learned about dozens of post-secondary education options at  North Marion High Schools College & Trade School Preview Night, Thursday, Oct. 25.Mary Auxier of Aurora is a pretty good spokeswoman for Grand Canyon University: she's knows her subject and is enthusiastic about it.

A university admissions counselor and graduate of GCU, Auxier was among dozens of representatives who set up at North Marion High School on Thursday, Oct. 24, to impart information about post-secondary curricula available to them.

"I had the best experience when I was in college," Auxier said, referencing her days at the Phoenix, Ariz., school. "The community there was like nothing else I have ever experienced anywhere else."

Auxier, who attended high school in Tualatin, said seeking an out-of-state adventure and sunlight were among the factors that led her to GCU back in 2013. She never once regretted it, and she said the school's popularity is no mystery to her.

"When I went there back in 2013 there were about 6,000 students," she said. "Now, this year, there are 22,000, and it's continuing to grow."

North Marion's first College & Trade School Preview Night featured many representatives like Auxier, on hand to offer information and answer questions. Students and parents in attendance found prime opportunities to meet face-to-face with the school and military service reps, getting one-on-one information about what they have to offer.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Grand Canyon University admissions counselor Mary Auxier of Aurora, left, greets students and parents interested in her school during North Marion High Schools College & Trade School Preview Night, Thursday, Oct. 25.

For example: did you know that Warner Pacific, the cozy-campus school etched into the shadow of Portland's Mount Tabor, has opened a second school downtown?

WP's external ambassador Meghan Varner was onhand to showcase Source U, a recently-launched WP wing that offers a 16-month associates and 32-month bachelors degrees in cybersecurity and web and mobile development and design.

The North Marion showcase was different from most high school career days in that it was held in the evening and it was open to anyone, regardless of their school. It was the first preview night facilitated by Ariel Hernandez, North Marion's college and career coordinator.

"Ariel is new to us, and this is her project, so it's the first time we've done this," North Marion Principal DeeAnn Jenness said. "In the past we always had a college and career day. She wanted to bring in colleges and trade schools for a couple of evening hours; we wanted to see more parents and a wider variety of kids, and kids from other schools, so the evening hours worked well for that.

"She did an awesome job setting this up," Jenness added.  

Hernandez started working at North Marion last January. While this was the first career exhibit, she's not exactly inexperienced with the process. Prior to moving to the area, she staged similar events for students to meet employers at her graduate-school alma mater, University of Nevada, Reno.

Hernandez was a first-generation student when she enrolled at Chico State for her undergraduate studies. She reflected on that as she went to work putting together the preview night.PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Parents and students learned about dozens of post-secondary education options at  North Marion High Schools College & Trade School Preview Night, Thursday, Oct. 25.

"The timing for this is important since November and December are months when a lot of college applications are sent in," Hernandez said. "College applications are a family process, so it was important to have this in the evening so students and parents can attend together. Students will have certain questions (of the college representatives), and parents may have some different questions."

Striving to provide a diverse sample, Hernandez lured schools from five different states. Her goal for next year is to increase that to eight states.

Hernandez, who moved to the area after her fiancé took an engineering job in Portland, said she was delighted to land at North Marion doing the work she does there.

"I could not have asked for a better school to work," she said. "The administrators here have been great – so supportive."

The joy Hernandez derives from her work is simple: "Helping people get to that next step in their life."

Illustrating the variety of options on the horizon is an effective way to do that.

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