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Students discuss higher ed. options at college fair

Posted: October 21, 2012 - 12:09am
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Thunder Mountain High School student Darrien Turner talks with a recruitment representative from the Universal Technical Institute of Arizona during Friday's College Fair at Juneau-Douglas High School.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Thunder Mountain High School student Darrien Turner talks with a recruitment representative from the Universal Technical Institute of Arizona during Friday's College Fair at Juneau-Douglas High School.

Juneau high school students had the opportunity Friday to learn more about their opportunities for higher education at the Juneau School District’s annual college fair, held this year in the Juneau-Douglas High School gymnasium.

More than 50 colleges, universities and institutes sent representatives to man tables at the event. While the Pacific Northwest states — Alaska, Oregon and Washington — had the most extensive representation, schools from across the country had tables, as did recruiters from different branches of the military.

Terri Calvin, career advisor at JDHS, said the college fair provides students with “a great advantage.”

“It’s a great opportunity for them to talk to multiple college representatives in one spot, instead of having to travel throughout the U.S. to look at schools,” Calvin said. “They can actually have the reps right here on the floor to talk with them.”

For students that have been struggling to choose which of the institutions they are considering and will explore further, Calvin added, “It’s a great opportunity for them to talk to the representatives and narrow that down.”

Calvin estimated about 350 juniors and seniors from Thunder Mountain High School and 90 students from Yaakoosge Daakahidi Alternative High School visited the fair Friday morning, while 700 JDHS students and as many as 25 high school students from schools in outlying communities like Hoonah, Angoon and Kake were also expected to attend.

Some students, like Yaakoosge senior Patterson Edenshaw, already had their minds made up about where they want to go and what they want to do.

While Edenshaw said he was required to look at other schools’ tables as well, he is set on WyoTech’s Fresno, Calif., campus, where he intends to “build and repair and make custom motorcycles, specializing in Harleys.”

Edenshaw said he wanted to learn “what I can do to sign up,” adding that ideally, “I’ll be able to go by next fall, so I can skip next winter and be in a hot spot for winter. That’s my plan in life. Love Alaska, hate the cold.”

Edenshaw’s fellow Yaakoosge student, junior Chris Paige, said he is planning to go to University of Alaska Southeast. Like Edenshaw, he said he was not really interested in looking anywhere else.

“I’ve been to the UAS table, and I’ve kind of just looked over the other tables,” said Paige. “I think, yeah, UAS is the only one I’ve actually talked to them.”

Paige said that while he was only at the fair because his entire school went, he had learned a bit more about his areas of interest at UAS.

“I learned about a couple of the classes they have at UAS, like their arts classes, drawing, painting, photography,” Paige said. “I’m kind of leaning toward the photography or digital arts, something like that.”

Not all students were set on one school yet.

Azia Nunley, a junior at TMHS, said she was looking at several schools, as well as the U.S. Army and Navy.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity for us to get to see what kind of programs are out there and different places that we can go, especially because they’re not all for here in Alaska,” said Nunley. “I think a lot of us want to get out of town, so it’s nice.”

Nunley said she is one of those students who would like to leave Juneau.

“I’m not originally from here, and I’d like to go back to Florida, where I’m from,” Nunley explained. “But I think it’s also good for me to see other options, like here on the West Coast.”

Among the programs Nunley is looking for are culinary arts training, business management and study abroad opportunities. She said she had been to the tables for Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., and George Fox University in Newberg, Ore., among others.

Just as students’ interests and focus at the fair diverged, those people manning the tables offered different perspectives on the event as well.

Juneau resident Win Gruening, admissions liaison officer with the U.S. Air Force Academy and Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, said he has been doing college fairs in Alaska’s capital city, and occasionally elsewhere in Southeast Alaska, for “about 15 years.” The going on Friday morning was slower at his table than at some others, he acknowledged.

“I don’t think there’s necessarily as many people interested in the Air Force Academy as there would be … in some of these other schools, but I’ve met quite a few young people here who are interested in a military career,” Gruening said. “My goal is to get at least 10 people that are interested. And mostly we’re looking for juniors.”

The University of Montana’s admissions counselor, Curran Johnson, said he is on a tour through Alaskan high schools that started in Ketchikan. This was his first time visiting Juneau.

“We’re getting some interest for sure,” said Johnson during a lull in activity at his table. His goal, he explained, is “to introduce kids to the University of Montana, just show them the opportunities that we present.”

The JSD has a college fair every year. Since TMHS opened in 2008, the fair has alternated between TMHS and JDHS. Students from the other school, as well as Yaakoosge students, are taken to spend part of their school day at the fair.

The fair ran from 9:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. The day of the fair coincided with the end of the first quarter for middle and high schools in the district.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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