Students use summer break to explore college, career options
Students use summer break to explore college, career options
Posted on 10/02/2014
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WEST HAVEN, Sept. 15, 2014 — Jakub Grubski spent time this summer wearing a protective suit while conducting research in a Yale University lab. Kharl Reynado could be found in courtrooms and at a local law office throughout August working on legal cases. Meanwhile, Tatiana Gay was scrutinizing crime scene clues.

These impressive summer itineraries might indicate Grubski, Reynado and Gay are local professionals or college students scouting out prospective jobs while on break. But they’re West Haven High School students who, like many other Westies, took advantage of the time off from school to explore possible career paths and college majors, build their resumes for college, and make connections in their future fields.

For many teens, hot-weather months away from school aren’t just a time for a vacation or summer jobs anymore.  WHHS students often participate in various internships, academic programs and community service opportunities, with some also working a job at the same time.

“I know there are a lot of programs for different interests. If you can get funding and get a scholarship, I recommend doing the art program I was in, or any program because it can help you get college experience and learn if college is right for you. Now I know I definitely want to go to Lesley University, and this program gave me a path to go on,” said WHHS senior Toni Chambers, who was enrolled in the Young Artist Residency Program this summer at Lesley in Massachusetts.

Over four weeks, Chambers lived on campus and studied digital illustration, types of animation graphic design and marketing and design promotion. She initially thought she favored graphic design, but realized she’s more passionate about animation and illustration because of their story-telling aspect.

Reynado was able to get experience in the legal field, thanks to an internship with WHHS alumna and local lawyer Shari Shore. Reynado met Shore through the WHHS Mock Trial team, as Shore is one of the group’s mentors. Reynado had opportunities to research cases, attend hearings in court and help out around Shore’s office.

“There was a client who asked if I was in law school. It was very flattering. I hoped going into this that I would get experience and the feel of court and get an idea of what it was like to be a lawyer,” said Reynado, who also participated in a medical program at Yale this summer, since she has interests in both medicine and law.

Grubski’s lab work was part of a Yale internship and was in addition to his participation in Yale’s summer SCHOLAR program, which gives more than 100 New Haven and West Haven public high school students the chance to live on campus for two weeks and study STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Down the road at the University of New Haven, Gay’s forensics-related research was part of a University of New Haven Crime Scene Investigation Academy. Program fees for her and other WHHS students in UNH academies and institutes were covered through a West Haven Public Schools-UNH partnership. Gay hopes to go to college as a forensics major and saw the summer academy as a way to do what she enjoyed, while also gaining experience at a college and preparing for her future.

Sarah Flynn and Jamie Kelley were chosen to participate in the six-day American Legion Laurel Girls State Program at Eastern Connecticut State University over the summer, where they and other high school students created a fictitious government.

WHHS Principal Pamela Gardner said students learn about some of the summer opportunities at school and discover others on their own. Either way, she said, she's pleased to see students taking the initiative to prepare for college or a career.

"These are valuable experiences that can complement what they're learning in school or expose them to something they might not have had the chance to do in class. We definitely encourage students to consider these kinds of programs or seek out an internship if they can, even if it's only for a few days," Gardner said. "We've seen how these opportunities can give them new perspectives on issues discussed in class and how they can help students stand out in the college or job application process."

Other students participated in additional Yale residential and academic initiatives, other UNH academies, and debate workshops, among other programs. 

Contact: Communications Director Susan Misur, 203-937-4300 X7114;