FONTANA, CA – Thousands of Inland Empire students filled blue tote bags with college brochures, swag and prizes as they connected with college recruiters, explored career technical education pathways and discussed their future aspirations during the annual Inland Empire Regional College Fair, held Sept. 22 at the Ontario Convention Center.
Launched in 2019, the Regional College and Career Fair is a collaborative educational initiative between the Fontana Unified, Rialto Unified and Chaffey Joint Union High school districts that connects students with college and university representatives from a variety of public and private institutions across the country.
“The Regional College Fair provided thousands of students with access to resources and information to help them along their path to higher education, and Fontana Unified School District was proud to be part of this effort,” said Dr. Monica Makiewicz, associate superintendent of teaching and learning. “Thank you to our educational partners, all of the participating schools and their representatives for providing guidance to our students and demonstrating that college is well within their reach.”
A DJ played lively music as students and their families discussed admission requirements, financial aid and academic offerings with representatives from more than 50 colleges and universities, including USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Scripps College, University of La Verne, University of Arizona, Maryville University, New Mexico State University, and Loma Linda University. Representatives from local law enforcement agencies, the armed forces, trade colleges and a local carpenters’ union were also on site to inform students of career options that await after high school.
Jurupa Hills High School senior Joceline Gomez said the college fair opened her eyes to the variety of colleges and universities out there, as well as affirmed her next steps in pursuing a career as a general contractor.
“It was surprising to see so many different kinds of colleges here, and to see how they all have something distinct to offer,” Gomez said. “I know where I want to go and what career I want, and today helped confirm that. If I could give any advice to younger students thinking about college, it’s to be open-minded and explore all the opportunities available to you.”
Fontana elementary and middle school students were also encouraged to attend, empowering students to think about their academic interests, consider their college and career aspirations and seek out resources to help them achieve their goals.
“I already knew that I want to go to college, but today helped me see what kind of subjects I could study and what schools offer them,” Fontana Middle School seventh-grader Kimberly Perez said. “I want to be a lawyer so I can help my community, and now I know where I can go to study leadership and criminal justice.”
Students of all ages took a break from talking to colleges and explored booths highlighting the career technical education pathways at each Fontana Unified high school, then brandished signs and took selfies with high school mascots against a District-themed backdrop.
The Regional College Fair is part of Fontana Unified’s robust efforts to boost college and career readiness by removing barriers and increasing access to information and financial support.
Such efforts include annual college application days where students receive assistance in submitting their applications and financial aid workshops that guide students and families through the process of applying for financial aid and completing FAFSA and CA Dream Act applications. Each year, the District also covers college application fees for a number of students who do not qualify for fee waivers.
With support from school counselors, teachers, administrators and staff, Fontana Unified graduates have gone on to attend prestigious colleges and universities across the country, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, USC, Harvard University, Yale University, Boston College and numerous University of California and California State University campuses.
FUSD_COLLEGEFAIR1: Fontana Middle School seventh-graders Kimberly Perez, Denise Gonzalez, Pedro Reyes, Vanessa Constantino and Hazel Piedrasanta celebrate their intent to go to college alongside principal Marco Gomez at the Inland Empire Regional College Fair on Sept. 22.
FUSD_COLLEGEFAIR2: Students prepare to explore the offerings of more than 50 colleges and universities – as well as trade schools, law enforcement agencies and the armed forces – during the Inland Empire Regional College Fair at the Ontario Convention Center.
FUSD_COLLEGEFAIR3: A Summit High School student demonstrates how pneumatic systems work, and provides background on career technical education pathways, during the Inland Empire Regional College Fair on Sept. 22.