Briana Johnson, a South Aiken High School senior, was looking forward to visiting the health science building at Aiken Technical College Friday.

She had arrived at ATC that morning for the college’s annual Career Expo – among about 200 seniors and some juniors from six county high schools and South Aiken Baptist School, as well.

“This is really fun and I like it,” Johnson said of visiting ATC. “It can help me further my career in nursing. I had thought about USC Aiken, but I’ve decided to start here first and transfer.”

Nina Dorman, a career counselor at Aiken High, called the expo a wonderful gift from ATC.

“They provided all the schools a bus to come here and see what Aiken Technical College has to offer and what the local community has in resources,” Dorman said.

“We’re really excited about the new building for enrollment services. This tour will show the students what careers are here and how to go through the application process. A lot of those boundaries will be eliminated.”

Debbie Hubbard, the Career and Technology Education coordinator at the Aiken County Career Center, said the expo has improved every year through the leadership of Lisa Sommers, the recruitment and outreach coordinator at ATC.

“The kids look forward to this, finding it very useful,” Hubbard said. “We target those students who have not been accepted into college or have not made a decision or made out applications.”

After lunch at the ATC gym, the students divided into groups for tours in specific fields – early childhood education and public safety; business management and administration and finance; health science; nuclear technology; and advanced manufacturing and industrial maintenance.

The event is intended to encourage students to attend college and hopefully ATC, Sommers said.

“We have had a really good response in past years, with 60 percent that end up coming to Aiken Technical College,” she said. “They can also move on to four-year schools, and ATC is a good place to start if they want to transfer.”

Fifteen Wagener-Salley High School students attended the expo.

“It’s important for them to see this campus and see what’s possible,” said counselor Darriel Whetstone. “We’re now getting acceptance letters and the bills, and they see the difference between two- and four-year schools. That’s something they can take into consideration.”

Katelyn Shields, an Aiken High senior, said she wanted to see ATC since moving to Aiken about three years ago. She’s interested in going into business management.

“I’m sad about leaving high school,” Shields said. “But this is exciting and very rewarding.”