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Image courtesy of Pearlena Stone
(Photo courtesy of Pearlena Stone)

About 1,300 ninth graders from James Campbell and Kapolei high schools had the opportunity to interview almost 70 employers and businesses and explore professions in a variety of career fields at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu on October 28, for the third annual Campbell-Kapolei (CK) Student Career Expo.

The event—presented by the Kapolei Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Kamehameha Schools, the Hawaiʻi Department of Education and UH West Oʻahu—was held in person after a two-year break.

“These businesses come together to represent industry pathways for students to determine if those careers would be a good fit for them in the future,” said Kiran Polk, executive director of the Kapolei Chamber of Commerce. “Students interviewed employers from at least three career fields of their choice and had the opportunity to engage with many industry professionals.”

Among the freshmen who attended was Evette, a Campbell High School student.

“It was very informative, and I had an enjoyable time getting to know the people and (visiting) the booths,” she said. “It helped me learn more about myself and all my interests, and what career path I want to get into when I get older.”

UH West Oʻahu’s critical role

Lokelani Kenolio, director of enrollment services at UH West Oʻahu, said it was wonderful to see all the participating students dressed in their professional wear, ready to explore potential career pathways. She noted the expo was the first time many of the ninth graders set foot on a college campus.

“As the University of Hawaiʻi campus in the students’ backyard, West Oʻahu has a critical role to contribute to the educational pipeline of growing our future leaders and workforce members,” Kenolio said. “Bringing students on campus to connect with our faculty, staff and university community is the first step in welcoming students to the college experience.”

More than 65 UH West Oʻahu student leaders, staff and faculty helped out by greeting students, sharing about UH West Oʻahu programs, guiding impromptu campus tours, setting up and cleaning up, and more.

Kapolei Chamber ‘bridging the gap’

The inaugural CK Student Career Expo was held in 2018, and was the first of its kind in Hawaiʻi.

“The expo occurs with intention just before the ninth graders confirm their career academy selection,” said Polk. “Students then have the opportunity to explore and learn more about their selected career pathway during the 10th through 12th grades through internships and mentorships. The chamber hopes to engage more of our businesses to offer these work-based learning opportunities as a follow-up to the expo.”

In 2023, the Kapolei Chamber plans to expand the CK Student Career Expo to serve other regional high schools, including those on the Waiʻanae Coast.

Read more in Ka Puna O Kaloʻi.

—By Zenaida Serrano Arvman

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