Rockwood Summit High
junior Ben Stewart has a very specific career field in mind. He wants to go into flavor creation, a specialized aspect of food science in which practitioners determine what goes into food flavoring and make new flavors of their own.
Heading in to the Rockwood-Parkway Career Fair at Queeny Park in Ballwin on Monday night, Stewart had a list of about a dozen tables where he wanted to stop and talk with college representatives. As he made the rounds, he further divided that list down into two categories: colleges that knew what he was talking about when he brought up flavor creation and colleges that did not.
"It's been really helpful," Stewart said. "Some of them have said they have the exact thing I'm looking for and some talk more about their agricultural program. It's been very helpful to see what they all know about what I want to do."
Stewart was not alone in his college quest Monday. Hundreds of students from the Rockwood and Parkway school districts got the chance to meet with more than 140 colleges and universities from around the country. Todd Minichiello, Rockwood's coordinator of K-12 guidance and counseling, estimated that around 1,500 total students, parents and college reps show up each year for the event, which has been co-presented by Rockwood and Parkway for the past four years.
This year's showing of colleges was the biggest yet.
"It's broadening my perspective about where I want to go," said Sneha Manikandan, a Lafayette High
junior who wants to study medicine. "I've learned about new colleges that I didn't know before. It helps me get more options and figure out more about their pre-med programs and the options and scholarships they offer."
Kathryn Wenger, another Lafayette junior, is at the beginning of her decision process but, like Stewart and Manikandan, she already knows what she wants to study: veterinary medicine. She and her mother, Janice, a fifth-grade teacher at the Rockwood Center for Creative Learning, focused their efforts at Monday's fair with that in mind, but Kathryn is also keeping her options wide open.
"I'm just getting a taste of what different colleges are available to me and to see what I can get involved in once I'm in college," Kathryn said. "This is giving me a good opportunity to learn what schools have to offer, what different sizes of schools there are and what the campuses are like."