Prospective college students from the William S. Hart Union High School District’s junior high and high schools gathered Tuesday to learn more about college and their future.
The College and Career Fair at Canyon High School featured booths from many Southern California universities, such as Pepperdine University and multiple University of California campuses, including Santa Barbara and Irvine. Along with the Santa Clarita-based College of the Canyons and California Institute of Arts, many out-of-state universities such as University of Alabama and University of Arizona were also present.
For students who were interested in enlisting, there were tables representing the U.S. Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy.
Along with the opportunity to learn about universities hundreds and thousands of miles apart in simply one location, presentations were given in both English and Spanish on topics including “From Stress to Success,” NCAA, taking the right classes, information for new future college students, and career paths.
Canyon High School, along with the Hart district’s Career and College Readiness program, collaborated on making this event happen for the students of the SCV. According to the Hart district CCR mission statement, “The mission of the William S. Hart Union High School District Career & College Readiness Department is to provide rigorous career pathways and resources that prepare students with the academic and employability skills for the careers of tomorrow.”
Michelle Anaya-Arteaga, a school counselor at Canyon High School, worked on organizing the event and discussed the process of bringing it to fruition. Although this event was also held last year, this time staff had much more time to ensure a successful outcome.
“Hart [district] had a college fair a while back, and it was really big, but then COVID happened and [everything was on hold],” Anaya-Arteaga said. “Canyon decided to do something very small for the students last year, and maybe a week before the actual event happened, [the staff members said], ‘Why don’t we now invite all the schools [in the district]?’ This year, the district got a lot of support from the district office.”
While many California State Universities and other University of California campuses were not available Tuesday due to their attendance at another conference, they are expected to be present during next year’s career fair.
In the meantime, Anaya-Arteaga, who began working for Canyon High School last year, made it her priority to ensure the success of the event.
“It’s awesome to [have it come to life]. Once I got here, we started to look at all the details, making sure that the facilities were taken care of. I was in charge of the presentations [and] having them in English and Spanish,” Anaya-Arteaga said.
Anaya-Arteaga and other Canyon High School staff members worked closely with the CCR counselor, Alicia Viera, during the three-month main planning process.
“Canyon staff and [Viera] were working on it at the end of academic last year, but intense planning started late July  … Alicia was in charge of the business capstone classes and I was in charge of the college/university representatives, presentations and facilities … we supported each other throughout the planning,” Anaya-Arteaga wrote in an email.
According to Anaya-Arteaga, Viera also worked on the program and table layout, resulting in the attendance of 40 universities, 30 industry representatives and four military branches.
“Alicia and I would meet once a week and talk daily regarding updates and planning. We received a lot of support from Carolynn Hoffman, director [of the] Career and College Readiness/Career Technical Education at district and Shellie Holcombe, Canyon principal,” Anaya-Arteaga wrote. “They helped us with facilities, funding and advertisement. Alicia [paid] a lot of attention to detail, which [allowed] us to plan ahead and be ready for the unexpected.”
Holcombe reflected on the turnout and the opportunity that was presented for many of the students:
“I’m super grateful to the counseling staff of Canyon High School and for the CCR program at the district to combine forces … I want to say thank you to everybody that worked so hard to make this such a great event. We’ve got everybody here, from colleges to industry to great opportunities for all of the kids,” Holcombe said. “I’m super happy to see such a large turnout.”
In terms of choosing what the highlight of the fair is, Holcombe believed that the presentations were strong contenders.
“I think that the presentations are what people should gravitate to — super educational, super informational and definitely something now a lot of people could benefit from, whether they’re getting ready to go to college next year or they’re just starting thinking about it,” Holcombe said.
While Canyon High School and the Hart cistrict cultivated a welcoming atmosphere, the university representatives were receptive to it.
University of La Verne admissions officer Deanna Lazaro Schwartz said she was surprised at how large the event was.
“It’s my first time being here. I didn’t realize it was going to be such a big event. It’s really well-attended and the students have been great. They’re asking all the right questions,” Lazaro Schwartz said. “A lot of them are looking at schools pretty early; they’re freshmen and sophomores, which I think is great because it’s a good opportunity for them to learn about what’s available and what’s out there.”
Curious students asked Lazaro Schwartz questions regarding the programs offered, the most popular majors, and even where the university is located.
From the perspective of a university representative, Lazaro Schwartz gave advice for the younger students who are beginning to look at their academic options: “It’s always a good idea to start looking early.”