More than 800 students participated in a College and Career Expo held Monday at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.

Sponsored by the career coaches of Jefferson and Desha counties, “Connecting My Purpose, My Voice, My Destiny” was the theme of this year’s event.

Several businesses and industry participants from various occupations, including the Arkansas Department of Correction, United States Department of Agriculture, Tyson Foods, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Super One Foods, Lennox Industries, etc., were present to speak with students about various career paths that are available to them.

Additional college and business representatives from around Arkansas, including Southeast Arkansas College, New Beginnings Beauty Academy, Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce and Rust College, were also in attendance to speak with students about scholarship opportunities, programs and career options available through their campuses and businesses.

Guest speakers were present to inspire and motivate.

Former NBA and Arkansas Razorback basketball player Sidney Moncrief, who played in the NBA from 1979-91 and at Arkansas from 1975-79, explained to students that the one word that changed his life is: “better.”

“Every day, I want to get better,” Moncrief said.

He challenged students to choose one word that will help them to succeed in life and not to let their circumstances define who they become in life.

“There’s not anything in life that you can’t do if you are focused and committed to it,” Moncrief said. “I came from poverty, peer pressure, and my character and confidence were paralyzed until I started to think for myself and surround myself with good people.”

He concluded his speech by informing students that “the power of a smile will take you a long way.”

Moncrief said the people who smile make more money than those who frown; smiling people get more promotions in life, and they live longer.

Joe “Broadway Joe” Booker, program director for KIPR Power 92.3 FM, was the other guest speaker, emphasizing the importance of reputation.

“A good name can get you a whole lot of places,” Booker said.

He used many examples of how reputation precedes people in life, including when applying for jobs and being asked for a list of references.

“They want to know what other people think of you and how they perceive you as a person, so stop walking around with the ‘I don’t care what people think of me’ mentality,” he said.

Booker told the students that “it is easier to keep a good reputation than to fix a bad reputation,” while also informing them that though they may not realize it, they are building a reputation right now by “the way you talk, the way you act, and the way you carry yourself.”