WHEELING — High school students from across the Ohio Valley traveled to Wheeling on Wednesday for the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual college fair.
The event was held at Wheeling University’s McDonough Center. Chamber spokeswoman Laurie Conway said 65 colleges and universities participated in the event, along with students from 14 different local high schools.
“They are here to check out the schools and get some information and talk about their futures and college careers,” Conway said.
She noted in addition to the colleges, the branches of the military also were represented, along with the Wheeling Fire Department and Wheeling Police Department. Project BEST was present to talk about careers in the building trades. The Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley was also on hand to talk to students about scholarship opportunities.
Braden Whitelatch, 17, a student at Wheeling Central Catholic High School, was visiting the Duquesne University table. He already had been accepted there and offered scholarships to attend. Whitelatch noted his mother attended law school at Duquesne, and he is interested in its chemistry program.
“I toured there and enjoyed their chemistry labs, and they have a really beautiful campus. It’s always something I’ve kept in the back of my mind, wanting to go there,” Whitelatch said.
He added he also has an Air Force ROTC scholarship, so he may eventually use his chemistry degree while working for a federal law enforcement agency in forensic science.
For younger students, Whitelatch advises them to keep their options open when considering colleges.
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. … You never know what new things are going to come to you. One Friday night, I found out I got a full scholarship offer. Stuff comes out of the blue. You have to trust yourself and the process,” he said.
Liz Romanek, 18, a student at Wheeling Central High School, is also planning to attend Duquesne University and has been offered scholarship money there, too. She said the school has an international securities program she is interested in.
“It’s one of the main colleges that only offer it on the East Coast, and I want to stay close to home,” she said.
Romanek’s advice for younger students coming up is to start thinking about life after high school sooner rather than later.
“Because we’re seniors, and it’s difficult cramming in all those festivities and all the homework and all the sports and stuff. You have to start soon,” she said.
Jaden Tucker, 16, a student at Martins Ferry High School, was checking out the University of Pittsburgh’s table. She is interested in becoming a dentist. Anyssa Suazo, 17, a student at Martins Ferry High School, was also checking out the University of Pittsburgh. She is interested in going into nursing.
Both Tucker and Suazo advise younger students to start thinking about their future college plans during their freshman or sophomore years in high school.
“Just to give yourself an idea of what you want to do and to give yourself options,” Suazo added.