By Tracy Correa
FRESNO – A crowd of mostly high school students packed into the lobby of the Fresno Convention Center counting down – with a simultaneous 3-2-1 – the start of Fresno Area College Night.
As soon as the entrance barricade was lifted Wednesday (Sept. 11) night, they poured onto the open floor and flocked to recruiters representing more than 100 schools — ranging from UC Berkeley to Notre Dame.
For 11 years, PG&E has been the primary corporate sponsor of the event held by the Fresno County Office of Education that attracts more than 4,000 students and their parents. The utility contributed $30,000 to this year’s event.
“We could not do it without the support of PG&E,” said Fresno County Schools Superintendent Jim Yovino.
The event allows students to take part in workshops — on topics such as financial aid and how to get into Ivy League schools – and meet face-to-face with college admissions representatives. And, all for free.
Skye Edwards, 15, who lives in nearby Selma, was attending College Night for the second year. “I’m really looking at Ivy League colleges,” said Edwards who wants to be an orthopedic surgeon.
“She has wanted to be a doctor since she was little,” said Skye’s mother, Tracie Tellez. Tellez is a correctional officer and a single mom who said it’s important that her daughter start planning now for her future.
Before the event kicked off, Yovino spoke with VIPs at a dinner reception during which he stressed the importance of education and thanked supporters, including PG&E. “This event is only possible because we have a generous donor in the Valley that continues to sponsor this,” he said of PG&E.
Ann Kloose, PG&E, government relations representative in Fresno, talked about the utility’s commitment to education. “Over the last decade, PG&E has invested more than $40 million to nonprofit organizations in support of education.” She also talked about being the parent of two Fresno State students and discussed college financial assistance PG&E has provided students through its Bright Minds Scholarship program. (Watch a video about this year’s scholarship winners.)
Then, Yovino and Kloose took to the lobby where they addressed the mob of students – fresh from workshops — waiting for the doors to the convention center floor to open where the recruiters were stationed.
Yovino and Kloose worked together quizzing students and tossing out T-shirts to winners as the crowd grew anxious. Then the doors opened and students and parents were on their own for the rest of the night.
Fresno’s College Night is just one of the college-related events sponsored by PG&E in the Valley. The utility sponsored Kern County College Night held in Bakersfield on Monday (Sept. 9) and is also a sponsor of Kings County College Night in Lemoore to be held today (Sept. 12). On Sept. 26, PG&E will once again team with the Fresno County Office of Education to sponsor the first-ever Career Technology Night geared toward trade and technology students.
Email Tracy Correa at firstname.lastname@example.org