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A man in green T-shirt and jeans is in the distance in a room with tables and the word 507 Career & College Center donated by class of 1996 over the open doorway.

Richmond High to host a districtwide College and Career Night with reps from 70 schools

on October 6, 2023

Gina Saechao is sitting at a cafeteria table where she might have eaten lunch in high school, only this time she’s sketching out plans for the upcoming “College and Career Night.”

On Thursday, Saechao and other event organizers will welcome area students and their families to meet over 70 representatives from colleges, universities, trade schools and nonprofits at Richmond High School.

“As a student who came to the school, I never saw these opportunities for us here in Richmond,” said Saechao, who now works for Berkeley’s Early Academic Outreach Program, one of the event partners. 

Other partners include Richmond High School, the West Contra Costa Unified School District, and the nonprofit Richmond Promise. They’re hoping to see several hundred residents walk through the doors. 

“It’s a whole show,” said Theresa Vidaurri, a regional director for EAOP.

College pennants line a classroom wall including Georgia, University of San Francisco, Idaho and Brown.

College and Career Night

When: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: Richmond High School gym

Cost: free

More information: WCCUSD website

She said the organization has been hosting college and career nights for about a decade, but this is the first districtwide event held at Richmond High.

When Vidaurri began attending career fairs in the area, she noticed that there weren’t a lot of Black and brown students or first-generation students attending. So she got to work.

“I went, and I hustled at different college fairs to build our visibility,” she said. “It’s important to come to areas that have been historically neglected in terms of representation for colleges. It sends a really important message to the community.” 

The organizers acknowledged that some students’ plans don’t include attending college. In fact, most upperclassmen at Richmond High are already balancing work and school, Saechao said. She did the same thing as a teenager, making smoothies at the mall. 

A woman with long black hair, a gray sweater and lavender shirt sits at a table by a computer smiling, beside a woman with salt and pepper long hair and a leopard-print top who is laughing.
Gina Saechao and Theresa Vidaurri finalize details for the upcoming event in the College and Career Center at Richmond High School. (Julia Haney)

Vidaurri added: “For our students, it’s about meeting basic needs. And that’s why a lot of them end up wanting to go and work first because their basic needs haven’t been met yet.”

Krista Jann, college and career counselor at Richmond High, said she wants students to understand all their options. “It could be college, it could be straight to the workforce, it could be military, it could be a trade.” 

When she speaks with students about their plans, she asks, “What’s your post-secondary option going to be?”

Still, Vidaurri said, part of this event is to show students that college is attainable for them. She thinks the college fair environment can help spark that feeling.

“When you go to a fair where everybody is talking to you about college, and you’ve never been in that environment before, it makes you believe in yourself more than the minute you walked through that door,” she said. 

It’s a feeling Vidaurri knows well. “I went to a college fair, and it changed the course of my life,” she said.

Teachers needed: Contra Costa schools use recruiting events to fill widespread vacancies

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