Dec. 5, 2002 – Each year, St. Croix's high school seniors face a big, and often daunting, question: What do I do after graduation?
Those students still unsure about their immediate futures got an opportunity on Thursday to talk with professionals from more than 50 business and public-sector employers at the St. Croix Educational Complex's annual School-to-Career Fair.
"This gives students the chance to see some of the career opportunities they might want to pursue," Principal Roy Pemberton said of the fair, now in its fourth year. "This is the largest number of display participants that we've ever had."
After a ceremony that included remarks by Labor Commissioner Cecil Benjamin and acting Education Commissioner Noreen Michael, students from both public high schools and all three junior highs on St. Croix were free to stop by any of the employer booths to pick up information and ask questions.
Dixon Mercado-Soltero, a U.S. Coast Guard recruiter, said many students expressed interest in joining the Coast Guard. "Our mission is different — we combat drugs and interdict illegal immigrants, often saving their lives," he said.
He said a number of young people asked him for information Thursday about what the Coast Guard has to offer. "Many of them already know what they want out of life," he said. "They were very mature for their age — these kids were so well behaved and respectful."
Rochelle Elizee, 17, said she plans to attend Monroe College in New York next year, and the fair helped highlight opportunities in her chosen field of business. "This helped me to see the different careers and jobs available out there, and it helped give me some ideas about what I want to do," she said.
Guidance counselor and fair organizer Carolyn McKenzie said the event is growing in popularity. "I know it's being successful because instead of my having to harass businesses to come and participate, they're now calling me," she said. "That's a good measure, and I know we must be doing something right."
McKenzie said talking to professionals about their jobs helps students develop their own goals. "We're trying to tie the training they're getting here to the real world," she said. "We're preparing them for their adult life."
At the same time, she said, "It's important for the businesses to come here and preview their next work force."
McKenzie also pointed out that many locally owned businesses participated in the fair, demonstrating to students that if they choose to stay on St. Croix, jobs are available.
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