GONZALES — Seventeen-year-old Kiana Lomas is clear on what she wants to study in college. The East Ascension High School student has completed all her computer science requirements, she said, and has always been good with electronics.
Her mother, Kemlyn Bailey Lomas, said she is glad her daughter has a field of study chosen, but knows that’s only half the battle.
Kiana Lomas was standing with her mother, beside her in the cafeteria at EAHS, waiting for the annual Ascension Parish College Fair to begin.
Kiana Lomas had the purpose. “I’m looking at Grambling, Southern, Southeastern, LSU,” the student said.
Kemlyn Bailey Lomas had the plan. She knew exactly what she wanted to ask the recruiters waiting Sept. 14 at the rows of fold-out tables with applications, marketing materials and shiny brochures.
“I want her to know what all her choices are,” her mom said. “I want them to express to us what other fields are available to her.”
Kimberly Burgess-Smith, school counselor at EA, said a crowd of around 200 students from all four Ascension Parish high schools took advantage of the minifair, with booths from about 30 universities, community colleges, technical training programs and armed forces recruiters.
This is a busy time of year for high school seniors, and it will only get worse, Smith said.
The fair provides parish seniors and juniors with a less-pressured, less-intimidating environment to get familiar with the options available. It’s also a great time to talk to representatives from the Tuition Opportunity Program for Students, and to figure out financial aid and scholarship options.
“It’s not always easy,” Smith said. “But it can be done, and we want every student to know that.”
Students and parents packed the cafeteria, weaving in and out of tables, carrying tote bags filled with key-chains, pens and other marketing materials.
Kiana stuck mostly to applications, though. Her grades are good, and she’s got plenty of extracurricular activities under her belt. She’s been planning for college for her entire high school career.
“You have to do that,” she said. Kiana is looking at all the schools with technology programs, she said, but she’s also said she’s leaning toward to schools that offer walk-on tryouts for basketball.
“That’s something I’d like to do,” she said.
Smith said the parish holds a college fair every year, and the high schools take turns hosting the event.