Students belonging to the College & Career Committee at Roosevelt High decided they wanted to host a fair on campus in which the whole school would participate. Principal Sean Wong agreed, and the students went to work.
Committee members headed up key areas to pull the event together: Alumni, Career, College, Scheduling, Setup/Breakdown, Sponsorship, Registration, Tech Support, Secretarial and Parking. They worked with staff to modify the bell schedule for the day so all students would be able to participate in five sessions by grade, to include a reflection and survey period just before and after, with it all wrapped up by lunch.
"We hadn't done a fair on campus in a while and we agreed it's the best way to get everyone thinking and talking about college and career," said Anna Gan, who with fellow student Kathy Ho headed up the event's college subcommittee.
Stephanie Matsuda, left, and Anna Gan at in the cafeteria, where sophomores were meeting with representatives from area programs and schools. Both are on the school's College and Career Committee, Matsuda was one of three students doing tech support for the event, while Anna helped coordinate college participation.
The sessions were organized into two main activities. In the cafeteria, representatives from nearly 40 local colleges and organizations provided information about pathways, certificates and degrees to students who were brought in by grade grouping — freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors. Students from grades who weren't in the cafeteria were able to use the other sessions to select from nearly 100 speakers who came to provide their career insights and advice.
As they moved from session to session, whether in the cafeteria or hearing directly from speakers, students worked through a series of worksheets designed to capture their reflections and organize the many opportunities they were learning about.
The Career Speakers list was a who's-who representing multitudes of careers: communications, journalism, accounting, marketing, health care, architecture, construction and safety, music and audio engineering, firefighting, medicine, foreign service, and many more.
In one classroom Chef Matt Young, 35, of Hula Grill was giving about 20 students an overview of life as a restaurateur. He focused on the joys of the work, as well as the skills necessary to become a contender in the field, while not pulling punches about the breadth of knowledge needed to succeed.
Chef Matt Young of Hula Grill was one of nearly 100 speakers at the event.
"Once you get your in-the-kitchen skills all dialed in, then you can work on getting good at the other stuff: marketing, human resources, finance," Young said.
Pros of the job? "Great upward mobility if you work hard, and if you want to travel, you can go anywhere in the world and work." Cons? "Long hours, you'll work weekends and holidays. But you have to create new normals. You celebrate Thanksgiving on the Tuesday before because on the Thursday you're serving 500 turkeys."
Asked his favorite thing about the job, Young said, "Seeing other people I've mentored succeed when they go on to other restaurants or open up their own. That's a really proud thing for me, because someone did that for me and you have to pay it forward."
Students in the cafeteria eagerly popped from one program booth to the next representing certificated pathways, military options, and area colleges. A pair of students were excited to learn about the
National Student Exchange program in which both Universities of Hawaii at Manoa and Hilo were participating; if students maintain a 3.0 grade-point average it allows them to study at schools across the U.S. and Canada (and Semester at Sea) under the in-state tuition of their home school. The cafeteria buzzed as students asked about program requirements, length to completion and cost.
Watch the video above for scenes from the event. Mahalo to the sponsors who helped make the event possible: Chinatown Lions, Dave & Buster's of Honolulu, Love's Bakery, Glow Putt, Kula no na Po‘e Hawai‘i, Old KC Kitchen, Pancakes & Waffles, Safeway, and Teapresso Bar.