HUDSON — Hudson High School hosted a College and Career Fair Tuesday morning with more than 50 colleges and businesses attending.

CTE Director P.T. Walters said this was about the seventh fair they have held, and it has grown since its inception.

“This is a way to show kids what is available out there and see what they are interested in, not only what schools are available but what businesses are out there, too,” he said. “We want them to have that ‘aha’ moment of ‘Hey, I could do that,’ or ‘I never thought of that.’”

Walters said it was important to the school to showcase both colleges and businesses to best serve their students because each student has their own path to lead.

Eighth-graders Kaileigh Solorio and Mikaela Preston said they thought the fair was pretty cool. They stopped by the Southland Perfusion Services booth where employees were demonstrating the Heart Lung Machine — the equipment that acts as a person’s heart and lungs while they are undergoing heart surgery.

“There was a lot that we learned over there,” Kaileigh said.

“It was pretty cool,” Mikaela said.

Being able to experience cool things like that machine helps them find out what they are interested in, they said.

“We can find out what we want to do when we grow up,” Mikaela said. “Do we want to go to college? Do we want to work? It gives us the opportunity to learn and be out and know the real world to get an education and a job.”

Michael Kornegay, associate director of recruitment, represented Southern Arkansas University. He said the goal is to come face-to-face with as many students as possible.

“Whether it’s one or two students or 30 or 40 students, we always want to make sure we’re getting our name out there because we feel like we offer an affordable college education for students,” Kornegay said.

Kornegay said SAU would be a good place for Hudson students because of its affordability, its 17-1 student-teacher ratio and its broad range of courses and opportunities. The university offers in-state tuition to students from Texas who live on campus.

Juniors Evan Johnson, Jesse Daniel and Stella Huckabee said they were impressed with how many schools there were compared to last year. However, they were sad that the University of Texas wasn’t there.

“We want to learn about our options at a college and career fair,” Stella said. “Everybody’s got that one school that they want to go to, but if you don’t get in, you’ve got to have a lot of options.”

“The experience is more personal here rather than online,” Evan said.

“It’s more one-on-one; you can ask more specific questions,” Jesse said.

Dr. Lindsay Syler and others from Angelina Animal Hospital brought several animals out and a spread of equipment and information for students to explore.

As students walked up to the booth outside the gym, there were many cries of “Oh, it’s so cute!” and “Look at that!” as the students took in the horses, Shetland pony, Burmese python, small dog whose back legs were in a wheelchair, and more.

“We like to show our animals off and give the students a chance to get some experience with animals and talk about animal husbandry,” Syler said. “I like interacting with the kids, and of course, they love getting scared by the snake.”

Sophomore Treyvion Lazenby said he loved the career fair, especially the animals.

“I really love that you can interact and actually talk to people and get information,” Treyvion said. “It feels great.”

Grace Juarez’s email address is grace.juarez@lufkindailynews.com.

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