Higher Education Week Helps Pave Way for Futures of Local Students

Rebecca and Deborah Desiderio are not seniors, but they understand the importance of information on higher education as they talk to a representative from Chico State with their father.
Rebecca and Deborah Desiderio are not seniors, but they begin preparing for their college careers by speaking with a representative from Chico State along with their father.

EL CENTRO — Higher Education Week ended with a large turn out at the Imperial County Office of Education’s (ICOE) annual Higher Education Week College Fair held Thursday at the Imperial Valley Mall.

ICOE has sponsored this event for at least 15 years at the local with the goal of providing information for the families of students who are looking into going on to college, no matter their age or background.

This year, 25 schools were represented at the mall, ready to provide any information needed by students and parents and to make recruiting pitches for their respective schools. The fair also allows students to ponder and weigh the wide variety of options available to them.

The mall event was created, not only the high school student in mind, but also for community college and adult students.

During the Higher Education Week, there are college fairs scheduled at every high school in Imperial County for students. Denise Cabanilla, ICOE director of Higher img_8913Education, said the event at the mall is for parents to see what their students are learning about college choices as well.

“For families to be informed and help them see what is available, especially with financial resources,” said Cabanilla. “So the more information we can give them, the better.”

ICOE puts on two of these events every year, one in the fall for the seniors, and another in the spring for juniors. Students and their families walk through the colleges’ booths gathering and listening to information from the recruiters about each school and what the process entails.

“It’s exciting, planning out my future,” said Jocelyn Jurey of El Centro, who plans to major in psychology. “We get to explore and get ideas for what are good colleges.”

For the parents, it gives them a chance to see what is in store for their children’s futures.

“It’s scary, but I know she will have a better opportunity,” said parent Letti Valasquez.

“It’s a big decision and having all of this information really helps,” said Eric Nidone.

Even more important, according to Dr. Todd Finnell, Imperial County superintendent of schools, is that the younger brothers and sisters are also getting used to the notion that they can continue to higher education, too.

“It’s tremendous, not just for students, but for their families,” said Finnell. “Aside from expanding their options, it’s the fact that conversations are starting.”

Originally the event was created with the joint effort of ICOE, Imperial Valley College, University of California, Davis, and San Diego State University, to allow all students from high school through college the opportunity to get information from colleges that normally would not come to the Valley.