BALDWIN PARK – Roughly 1,000 students and parents mingled with alumni and representatives of top universities and career programs at Baldwin Park Unified’s 10th annual College Fair, which targeted college and career guidance at students in grades five to 12.

The event, held Sept. 24 at Sierra High School, included a keynote address from the president of No Excuses University, workshops on college preparation, panels of alumni and parents, entertainment by student musical groups and, of course, dozens of college booths.

Sierra Vista High School senior Kimberly Lopez walked from booth to booth with a group of friends whose support bolstered confidence enough to chat with a representative of Harvard University about traveling during a gap year after high school.

“I have never seen Harvard at our school before,” Lopez said. “It was amazing to see all the options that are available from community colleges to private universities.

No Excuses University President Dan Lopez opened the event by sharing his story of being the first college graduate in his family. No Excuses University is a network of 250 schools in 21 states that fosters a college-going culture at public schools.

“College is not only a pathway to a more successful career, but is so important to providing our children with multiple options in their lives,” said Lopez, who recalled how his mother would remind him each night at bedtime that, “after high school comes college.”

The words became a mantra for Lopez.

Sierra Vista’s marching band performed at the beginning of the event and the school jazz ensemble performed favorite selections during the afternoon.

Sierra Vista Principal Christine Simmons said she was impressed with how logistics were deftly handled by students from the Associated Student Body and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, who helped coordinate the event for the first time.

“It’s such a great match because AVID is all about going to college,” Simmons said. “All of our participating student leaders we’re a huge help with setting up the event.”

Among the more than 20 institutions to attend were universities, colleges, career technical program and public safety academies, including UCLA, UC Berkley, Harvard University, CSU Fullerton, Cal Poly Pomona, Pasadena City College, East San Gabriel Regional Occupational Program and Technical Center and Baldwin Park Adult and Community Education.

There were also panels during which students asked alumni about college life and during which high school students’ parents questioned alumni parents.

Lopez worked specifically with students in grade levels 5 to 8. A USC representative led a workshop on NCAA requirements.

“Our goal was to provide a program that offered support to students who are planning to embark on any one of a number of college and career paths,” Superintendent Froilan N. Mendoza said. “It is critical that we ensure all of these opportunities are presented to our students as they plan their futures.”

Sierra Vista junior Litzy Munoz said she was heartened to receive encouragement from her friends to apply to top universities.

“I got to see what college life looks like,” Munoz said. “It’s so close, yet so far away.”


092916_BPUSD_Fair_1, 2: Students visited with representatives of more than 20 college and career booths during Baldwin Park Unified’s 10th annual College Fair on Sept. 24.