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Friday Career Academy at UCC

Students’ career paths are in motion. Each Friday, four South Umpqua High School students spend the school day at Umpqua Community College. They join other juniors and seniors across Douglas County to participate in the college’s Friday Career Academy program.

The program kicked off this past fall. Students could choose from theatre, automotive and emergency medical technician classes. The classes taught by UCC faculty allow students to earn college credits.

As the first year of the program is wrapping up, here are a few highlights of what students have learned.

Morgan Mayfield has been acting since she was nine years old. Her love of acting brought her to the class. The class taught her that she’s prepared for the next big thing, which will be attending the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls to study medical imaging.

UCC Assistant Professor and Director of Theatre Arts, Bart McHenry said, “The Friday Career Academy program gives students the opportunity to try acting and learn new skills.” McHenry has more than 30 years of experience teaching theatre and joined UCC’s faculty nearly one year ago.

High school students from area schools participate in UCC’s Friday Career Academy Theatre program. Pictured from left, Zoe Vickers, Oakland High School; Pauline Ngigi, Glide High School; Rockie Rios, North Douglas High School; Morgan Mayfield, South Umpqua High School; and Bart McHenry, UCC Associate Professor and Director of Theatre.

Morgan and her classmates have learned about acting, directing and stage designing, while expressing their creative sides. These students produced a play that brought books to life through a series of skits and songs. Other performers from UCC’s music and theatre programs joined the high school students on stage. During Literacy Month, a total of nearly 4,000 elementary students were welcomed to Jacoby Auditorium over the course of four performances.

UCC Friday Career Academy theatre students wrote and produced a play performed in Jacoby Auditorium for a total of 4,000 elementary students. Photo courtesy of UCC. 

“I learned that I can speak to a room of 1,000 people,” Morgan said. “This performance is the highlight of my life.”

The high school theatre students will celebrate the end of the school year with a trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland to see “The Three Musketeers.”

Students Noah Reed, Bryce Eastridge and Andrew Orosco spend their Fridays in UCC’s automotive shop.

South Umpqua High School students pose near an engine that Friday Career Academy students disassembled and reassembled. Pictured from left, Bryce Eastridge, Andrew Orosco, UCC Automovtive Instructor Doyle Poole and Noah Reed.

Instructor Doyle Poole brings 36 years of automotive experience. “I like to teach critical thinking and how to solve problems,” he said. The program offers in-class lectures and hands-on experience in the shop.

While in class, students worked in pairs and took apart engines donated by Toyota. They followed detailed instructions to put each engine back together.

Noah explained that he has a passion for car repair. He learned to work on cars with his dad. He has expanded his skillset and has come to realize that he’s skilled. This senior looks forward to continuing his education at UCC.

UCC Automotive Instructor Doyle Poole talks with Noah Reed during a recent Friday Career Academy class.

Bryce is also a senior. He uses what he learns from the automotive class to work on cars at home. In the fall, he’ll return to UCC to work towards completing an Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT) Degree. He plans to become a high school teacher to teach history and economics.

Andrew is a junior. Next year he’ll return to Friday Career Academy to take the mechatronics class, which will be a new addition to the Friday program. He plans to study aerospace engineering in college.

Throughout the year, automotive students have completed a series of certificates for various types of measurements.

Friday Career Academy is made possible through UCC’s partnership with local school districts, funding from the Oregon Strategic Grant and The Ford Family Foundation.

“South Umpqua School District is excited to be part of Friday Career Academy. The district is thankful to UCC and community partners for giving students avenues to build their futures. We’re grateful for this growing and robust program,” said Kate McLaughlin South Umpqua School District superintendent.

To learn more about UCC’s expanding Friday Career Academy and the 2023-2024 offerings, visit: