Higher education begins with an awareness of what you can be. If you’re young, the best way to visualize the future – and your place in it – is with a sneak peek at what’s out there. This spring, Verde Valley middle school students got a preview of trades education through Yavapai College’s Mini-Class program.

“YC’s Mini-Class program is an opportunity for seventh and eighth grade students to explore career and technical education programs.” Verde Valley Campus Associate Dean Heather Mulcaire explained. “Our goal is to get students excited about a career field before they enter high school.” 

This year, YC’s Mini-Class program welcomed eight students from Clarkdale-Jerome Middle School onto its campuses. In three separate outings, they explored different trades under the guidance of seasoned instructors and imagined themselves in a variety of fields.

In January, YC Campus Safety Officer Travis Munday taught them about the lessons and lives of law enforcement officers; February took them to the Verde Campus Skilled Trades Center, where Electrical/HVAC Instructor James Morales helped them assemble simple circuits and study solar panels. And in April, Mini Classes led them to YC’s Allied Health Campus in Prescott Valley, where Radiology Director Tracy Rogers introduced them to medical imaging equipment, helped them explore the technique of making x-rays, and gave them an overview on the work of a Radiologic Technologist.

“Yavapai College has presented [our] students with the opportunity to experience tangible job opportunities with highly qualified instructors in fields they may not have otherwise considered.” Clarkdale-Jerome School Superintendent Matt Schumacher said. “The ability to get hands-on at campus facilities brings a profession like Radiology directly to students in a manner that opens their minds and helps them recalculate their future.”

Now in its third year, Yavapai College’s Mini-Class program has provided students from Cottonwood and Clarkdale-Jerome middle schools with a fun way to consider ideas for high school and beyond. “Now that our high school students can start YC early through VACTE [the Valley Academy for Career & Technology Education,] we want them to be able to make more informed class schedule choices.” Mulcaire said. “Our teachers are passionate about their industries, and we see growing excitement from the students who participate in this program.”

The Mini-Class program for middle schoolers will return to Yavapai College’s Verde Valley Campus next year. For more information on the program, please contact Heather Mulcaire, YC Verde Valley Campus Associate Dean, at: (928) 634-6527.


Yavapai College operates six campuses and centers throughout Yavapai County and offers over 100 degrees and certificates, two baccalaureate degrees, student and community services, and cultural events and activities.

To learn more about YC, visit