The College Fair marketplace

PUHI — Genevieve Keep, mother of Kauai High School senior Taegan Keep, was overwhelmed at the sight that greeted her Monday morning at Island School’s Wilcox Gymnasium.

“This is the first time I’ve attended anything like this,” Keep said. “Taegan couldn’t make it today, so I said I would come and pick up stuff for her. When I got here, I couldn’t believe all of these people who came here just to help our kids. This is a wonderful opportunity for the students to be exposed to so many colleges in one place.”

Rose Shaw, one of the event organizers, expected more than 600 students from the different high schools, charter schools and home schools to benefit from visiting nearly 90 vendors representing higher education establishments from across the country.

“This college fair gives students exposure to different colleges, and an opportunity to speak with lots of people,” said Akira Takabayashi, recently named a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship program. “I want to be a researcher, and am considering attending MIT. But they’re not here. This fair still allows me to talk to a lot of people from different colleges.”

Rachel Jones, a freshman with Hawaii Technical Academy, said she was overwhelmed by her first visit to the fair.

“I did find a college in Tampa, Florida, that offered a good program in criminal justice,” Jones said. “I just wanted to find something that fit in with my plans.”

Jill Kouchi, representing the University of Hawaii, West Oahu, said many students don’t realize they can earn a bachelor’s degree, and more, without leaving home.

“I sent a bunch over to see Colleen Kaimina‘auao, the director of University Center at the Kauai Community College,” Kouchi said. “They can pursue their degrees without having to leave home.”

Col. Robert Levoit, the director of the Kapaa High School JrROTC program, was representing West Point, the United States Military Academy.

“Do you realize (Kapaa graduate) Kainalu Gandia plays golf three times a week?” Levoit said. “He’s at a prep school for West Point, and scheduled to enter. (Waimea graduate) Devon Hartsell is also in prep school and scheduled to enter West Point.”

Levoit said Kyle Fleming, another Waimea graduate, just graduated as a second lieutenant, and Kapaa graduates Christina Pico and Krystele Guino are seniors at West Point this year.

“(Kauai graduate) Kate Machorek and (Kapaa graduate) Shiloh Begley are sophomores this year,” Levoit said. “When I first got back to Kauai, I set a goal of getting at least seven into West Point. I think that’s seven.”

Cheryl Brady, a mother of two students attending the fair, said it was her second visit.

“This is very good and helpful,” Brady said. “I attended the Sunday evening session as well. The thing that is an improvement over last year is the breakout sessions they held with all of the students with similar interests. This is definitely good exposure of the colleges to students.”

Sierra Hampton-Eng, the young adult librarian at the Lihue Public Library, was among the sea of college representatives wooing interest in their respective schools.

“The state library system has a lot of resources to help students and parents with their college journey,” Hampton-Eng said. “Do you realize you are able to do a practice SAT for free? We want people to know about how much resources the library has for them to succeed with their college experience.”

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