Kiwanis Club holds inaugural college & career fair

Published 2:29 pm Saturday, September 24, 2022

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LAPLACE — More than 450 juniors and seniors in St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools were exposed to new opportunities Thursday as Kiwanis Club of Tri-Parishes held its first College and Career Fair at New Wine Christian Fellowship in LaPlace.

Chartered earlier this year, Kiwanis Club of Tri-Parishes is geared to the children in St. John, St. Charles and St. James parishes. Meetings have been held across the River Region and Kiwanis President Dayna James yearned to introduce events to serve the youth in each of the three parishes.

James worked closely with Karla Morris, education committee chair for the Kiwanis Club and a representative of Junior Achievement, to coordinate a large-scale college and career fair for the youth. The event drew support from businesses in the River Parishes, from large industries like Marathon to family-owned companies such as Frisard Trucking. Other companies that attended traveled from the New Orleans area, including Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company.

Students were also exposed to universities including Southern, Grambling, Nicholls State and LSU.

Participating students arrived by bus from East St. John, West St. John and the St. John STEM Magnet Program. St. John Parish President Jaclyn Hotard and Sheriff Mike Tregre were among the elected officials in attendance who reminded students that the possibilities for the futures are endless.

“Our desire is to have something in every parish, and we decided to do a college and career fair in St. John Parish first. Junior Achievement has experience with college fairs, so it was a perfect match. We wanted to bring something different to the young adults from St. John Parish. My heart is here, and this is one of the ways to bring exposure to the junior and senior class,” James said.

While each of the three parishes are unique, James said there are some needs that stretch across the board when it comes to engaging the youth.

“So far, we have had a meeting in each parish to let them know that we are here. We have allowed the parish presidents to come and speak at our first meeting in each parish. Some of the needs are different and some are the same,” James said. “Most of the residents have said we need more in the community – more businesses, more things for young adults to do. We are trying to expose the kids to things outside of the River Region.”

Junior Achievement President Larry Washington said this is the first time the organization has held a career fair in St. John Parish. Junior Achievement typically hosts an annual career fair in Orleans Parish that reaches up to 3,000 young adults each year.

“Our mission is to inspire young people to live up to their greatest potential. I think part of that is introducing them to as many opportunities, pathways and careers as possible so they can see what’s out there,” Washington said.
Before students come to a college and career fair, they are prepared in the classroom to be thoughtful in what kinds of questions to ask the participants.

“We’re really focused on trying to get our vendors to be hands on with the kids. They are talking to them in a way they can understand,” Washington said.

Washington would like to see the college and career fair become an annual fixture in the St. John Parish community.

“In order for us to do things like this, we need as much support as possible from businesses and industry in our community. We can’t do it by ourselves. Our goal is to do this again next year, and we want as many people as possible supporting,” he said.

The next event hosted by Kiwanis Club of Tri-Parishes will be a trunk-or-treat at the Lafon Performing Arts Center in St. Charles Parish on October 29.

Kiwanis Club meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month. For more information, find Kiwanis Club of Tri Parishes on Facebook.