Helping Students Find the Right Path

Writer / Julie Yates
Photography Provided

Pursuit Institute is an independent Career and Technical Education (CTE) district with the goal of helping all students find their passion. A collaboration of the six Hamilton County school systems, it expands post-secondary options beyond what has been traditionally possible. As partnerships with various industries are being developed, its goal is for all students to have an opportunity to experience meaningful jobs whether they plan to enter the workforce upon graduation or earn an associate or bachelor’s degree.Pursuit Institute

Pursuit Institute was launched in July of 2021. Before it came into existence, Hamilton County high school students had to leave their districts and travel to J. Everett Light Center in Indianapolis for CTE options. With only a limited number of spots, not everyone was afforded the opportunity to participate in work-based learning programs. In addition, students had to deal with transportation and time spent in leaving their home school campuses.

The Hamilton County Council saw the need for a local CTE and provided the funding to begin what would become Pursuit Institute. The school systems of Carmel Clay, Hamilton Heights, Hamilton Southeastern, Noblesville, Sheridan Community and Westfield Washington now work together to forge partnerships with local businesses and industries. By pooling resources and dropping rivalries, students from each school system have expanded choices for on-the-job learning within a career field.

“CTE used to be called vocational education, but a stigma became associated with it that students were not college bound,” Carrie Lively says. Lively is the executive director of Pursuit Institute. “Every student should have the chance to work before graduate. It gives an avenue to explore what pathway to take and the ability to make better post-secondary choices plus continue to network whatever way they chose. These are not fast-food jobs; essentially work base learning is a new term for on-the-job training to get aligned with a career path.”

Pursuit Institute“Health care was one of the fields our research showed needed workers. Employers need people with credentials. Our Health Services students earn a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) certification, and by senior year also become a certified phlebotomy technician and are hired by Riverview Hospital. All the while they are learning bedside manner, how to deal with people and start to think more broadly when they see what a lab or x-ray technician does. Maybe they will continue the same job after graduation or maybe they will decide to pursue a nursing degree,” Lively says.

Students who choose to participate in CTE have at least 15 programs they can access, each developed because of labor demand. These areas of study include Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture, Business, Construction, Information Technology, Law and Transportation among others. Lively shares that the businesses and industries are no longer just consumers of what comes out of the educational system but are now producers as well as students become connected to the community through their on-the-job training. Talent will be developed that doesn’t leave.

“Traditionally educators don’t push career education, but it’s for everyone. It gets students ready for the next step, whether it’s further education or employment. Students experience learning in an authentic environment,” Lively says.

“Hamilton County is a great place to be a student. CTE reinvents what education looks like and it’s an ongoing revolution. We are happy to share our model with other communities. We can’t ignore that a successful economy today is different than it was twenty years ago. All students should have access to this pathway,” Lively says.

You can learn more about The Pursuit Institute at or by emailing for more information at Their phone number is 317-210-3195.Pursuit Institute

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