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Students in a tent at the West Oahu Student Career Expo

The University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu hosted more than 1,300 high school freshmen who explored career opportunities at the October 27 West Oʻahu Student Career Expo, presented by the Kapolei Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Kamehameha Schools, the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education and UH West Oʻahu.

Students from James Campbell, Kapolei and Waiʻanae high schools; Nānākuli High School and Intermediate; and Island Pacific Academy attended the career expo and interacted with 40 participating businesses and organizations representing various career pathways. Students interviewed industry professionals to explore possible future career paths and skills necessary for future employment.

“We pioneered the first student career expo of its kind in 2018, and we are excited to again host this amazing career exploration for our future workforce,” said Kiran Polk, executive director of the Kapolei Chamber of Commerce. “We hope the students can use the interactions with our business community to help them navigate towards the pursuit of their dreams.”

Justin, a ninth grader from James Campbell High School, was looking into nursing.

“This is a really good experience because it’s a good way to open students’ mindset and have them have different doorways to different careers in life,” Justin said between visiting booths at the expo. “I know some of my friends are unsure what they want to do in life, so I’m hoping that they found something that they’re interested in here.”

Sean Tajima, the Campbell-Kapolei Complex Area superintendent, commended the West Oʻahu Student Career Expo for helping freshmen make important career decisions in high school, post-secondary and beyond.

“This is an awesome event for students in the Campbell-Kapolei Complex Area,” said Tajima. “It’s important that our kids step foot on a college campus right in their backyard.”

UH West Oʻahu Chancellor Maenette Benham said the career expo offered ninth graders an opportunity to talk with UH West Oʻahu faculty and students, to really understand what it means to go to college.

Through the West Oʻahu Works Education and Workforce initiative, the Kapolei Chamber is working as West O‘ahu’s “career hub” by working in collaboration with employers, educators, and job training programs to prepare students for higher education and/or develop a 21st century workforce. The Chamber supports local efforts in West Oʻahu to assist in youth mentoring, internship and employment opportunities.

Read more at Ka Puna o Kaloʻi.

by Zenaida Serrano Arvman

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