More than 1,000 students, parents, teachers and school counselors participated in the first virtual UFT College Fair, held via Zoom on Oct. 23.
Representatives from nearly 100 colleges and universities provided information about applying for admission, financial aid and scholarships. The goal was to help students find the best college for specific careers — from law to finance to art and design.
Nicholas Cruz, the UFT director of community and parent outreach, said several high schools opened their libraries to allow students to participate remotely while adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols.
Forty students from International Community HS in the Bronx participated remotely in the event. Many sought information on social and emotional support at the college level, given that remote learning is likely to continue.
Martin Castro, who teaches global history and is chair of the postsecondary committee at the Mott Haven school, said the City University of New York attracted a lot of interest. In particular, students were curious about CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP). Offered at nine CUNY schools, it provides financial and study support to help students graduate and transfer from community colleges to four-year colleges.
Christine McNamara, a school counselor at P23, a District 75 school with six sites in Queens, said the virtual format was perfect for her high school students, many of whom live in hospitals and could not attend an in-person event. “They could not be on camera, but their teacher asked their questions,” said McNamara. “This opened doors for them.”
Kyeshia Casanova, the teacher who assisted them, said the students “were interested in the medical field, in becoming counselors and helping children like themselves, which I found inspiring.”
Lateesha Rapley, a teacher at MS 301 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, said 26 students from her school participated. “Some students wanted to know about law enforcement or dentistry, how long it would take to pursue those careers and the cost,” she said. “A couple wanted to know about support for children in temporary housing as well as foster care.”
Rapley praised the organizers. “I thought they did a pretty good job despite a few technical glitches,” she said. “They spoke to the things that kids wanted to know about.”