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 Passport to Life Gives Students Path to Success

​The annual Passport to Life Career and Education Expo brought resources and inspiration Aug. 18 to hundreds of young people who have had contact with the juvenile justice system.

More than 800 teens and young adults and about 125 parents attended the event, which included 90 exhibitors representing schools, branches of the military, careers, training services, and other resources. This is the eighth annual Passport to Life event, which is geared toward young people ages 14 to 24 who are currently on probation or have been in the past.

Through speeches and workshops at San Diego City College, the youth heard stories from educators, law enforcement personnel, and other students about how to overcome obstacles and find resources.

The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has been Passport to Life partner since the event was established, collaborating with all of supporting agencies to make this day a success, said Stephanie Johnston Austin, a support services supervisor with SDCOE’s Momentum Learning.

The event focuses on the importance of finishing high school, developing future goals, going to college, and building work-readiness skills. The goal is to show attendees that they can change their trajectory through education and employment.

“Passport to Life is critical for all students, as it provides an opportunity to plan for the future while being on a college campus, listening to a speaker who has overcome his own difficulties and used education, while surrounded by resources and workshops,” Austin said.

The expo is a collaborative effort between the San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego Superior Court, San Diego County Probation Department, San Diego City College, San Diego Workforce Partnership, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, and San Diego County Public Defender’s Office.

“It is always inspiring and uplifting to see the Passport to Life attendees,” said San Diego Superior Court Judge Carolyn M. Caietti. “They have such potential and ability to succeed. These young people may not always recognize that in themselves but once they do, it is exciting to watch it unfold.”