UH Mānoa Travel Industry Management students at the information table.

Representatives from multiple University of Hawaiʻi campuses interacted with hundreds of middle school students exploring career and college options at a half-day fair at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center.

More than 750 students from nine middle schools across Oʻahu engaged with dozens of exhibitors through hands-on, interactive activities designed to educate and expose them to various career pathways and college opportunities.

It was all part of the Hawaiʻi P–20 Partnerships for Education Middle School Career Industry Fair on February 15. Students came from Central Middle, Dole Middle, Jarrett Middle, Kalākaua Middle, Nānākuli High and Intermediate, Waimānalo Elementary and Intermediate, Waiʻanae Intermediate, Waipahu Intermediate and Washington Middle schools.

“We want to help students see that education is the pathway to career success,” said Stephen Schatz, executive director of Hawaiʻi P–20. “We need to build partnerships between education and industry, and create a seamless educational pipeline that ensures the future generation of workers will meet the demands of our growing economy.”

Student discover high skill, in-demand careers

More than 30 of the 80 exhibitors represented various UH campuses and programs including the UH Mānoa Shidler College of Business, UH Mānoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene, Windward Community College’s veterinary technology program, Leeward Community College’s television production program and Honolulu Community College’s fashion technology program.

“I think one of the best parts of our event is that we have so much support from the university,” said Lesli Yogi, Hawaiʻi P–20 business and community outreach specialist. “And so to show that support to all of the students that we have all these different programs right here in our state that they can go and graduate and get a degree in, I think is phenomenal.”

Just saying ‘marine biologist’ is very basic but here I can get an explanation on what it is.
—Tia Cunningham

One goal of the fair was to introduce students to high skill, in-demand careers so they could start planning for their future.

Tia Cunningham, an 8th-grade student at Washington Middle School, is interested in marine biology, or law or photography. She said the event really helped her because it provided, “more thorough explanations on what the jobs are, that you can go to cause just saying ‘marine biologist’ is very basic but here I can get an explanation on what it is.”

Fellow Washington Middle School 8th grader Laura Rogers said the fair provided key information about jobs, what grades she would need to maintain and the cost of college. “So this really helps us out trying to figure out, and I want to be a cardiologist so this really helped me figure out where do I want to go,” she said.

Yogi said college leads to better opportunities, pointing to research that shows that by 2020 more than 70 percent of jobs in Hawaiʻi will require a college education. “Itʻs extremely critical that we starting building aspirations from an early age for these students so that when they get to past high school and they graduate they know that college is their next step.”

For more information about Hawaiʻi P–20 Partnerships for Education and their initiatives to prepare Hawaiʻi’s students for college and careers, go to the program website.