DALLAS - A community program in Dallas is giving DISD students a head start on adulthood.
NXT Fest is a free event aimed at helping teens prepare for their future.
All of the students who participated in Friday's event are Dallas ISD students at schools located in the southern sector of the city.
Teens who attended left feeling empowered and hopeful for the next chapter in their lives.
For Sunset High School junior Amy Castro, the professional possibilities are endless.
“I want to work with people. I'm a people person,” she said.
Like many kids her age, the 17-year-old DISD student isn't sure what she wants to do when she grows up.
“Social work, maybe,” she said.
That's where Friday’s massive networking event comes into play.
With help from 18 community partners, the State Fair of Texas hosted the third annual NXT Fest.
The free event linked 400 DISD students from the southern sector of Dallas with college and trade school recruiters.
“So they face a lot of obstacles, but they have the least opportunities,” said Bemnet Meshesha, who is community relations manager for the State Fair of Texas. “So what would it look like for us to pair resiliency, commitment, the drive that they have, with the opportunity that they deserve? And so that's really what this is.”
Students took part in workshops, including one where they had to develop an original product and pitch it to executives.
There was also a mixer where teens got to engage with industry leaders who can offer professional advice.
“It's all inclusive, to make sure our students are prepared for the future,” said Froswa Booker-Drew, VP of community affairs for the State Fair of Texas.
The students who took part said they are grateful the program exists.
“Usually, we don't get these opportunities, and when we do, it's new to us and we love it,” Roosevelt HS senior Marlon Shields said.
“My dad just does construction and off jobs, so he tries his best to provide for us, but he just really wants me to have a college opportunity,” Castro explained.
All students were given a backpack filled with school supplies.
They were also able to browse professional wear from an on-site clothing boutique.