LEMOORE — More than 700 high school seniors took their first steps into college life Friday when they attended the annual Eagle Dayz at West Hills College Lemoore.
The event gave the high school seniors who have decided to attend WHCL the opportunity to take advantage of the West Hills Community College District’s Reg365 program, which enables students to register for classes for a full year at once, before anyone else has even registered for fall classes.
Students from Hanford High, Hanford West, Lemoore, Sierra Pacific, Avenal, Corcoran, Riverdale, Laton, Caruthers, Jamison and Kings Christian schools learned about financial aid, special programs, clubs and toured the campus.
Dean of Student Services Jody Ruble, Vice President of Student Services Sylvia Dorsey-Robinson, Vice President of Educational Services James Preston and President of WHCL Kristin Clark welcomed the students, who she referred to as "Eaglets," to Eagle Dayz.
“This is one of the best places to be, and you made a really good choice coming to West Hills College Lemoore,” Clark told the students. “All of the staff here really genuinely cares about you, our faculty is going to take care of you and we’re going to make sure your dreams come true.”
Corcoran High School senior Isabel Mendez said she decided to attend WHCL because she wanted a smaller school option and will have easier access to classes to be able to transfer to a four-year university when she is done at WHCL.
Mendez said she was pretty sure she had her financial aid all squared away, but she stood in the financial aid line to talk to a financial aid expert from WHCL nonetheless, saying she wanted to make sure she wasn’t missing anything.
Mendez said she planned on taking summer classes at the college, so she was really looking forward to touring the campus during Eagle Dayz and getting familiar with where everything is located.
Cynthia Pelcastre walked around the Golden Eagle Arena looking at the four-year university booths and talking with representatives from Fresno State and University of California, Merced. Pelcastre, a senior at Sierra Pacific High School, said she was looking at both WHCL and College of the Sequoias as possible colleges to attend before transferring.
It could have been easier to choose the COS Hanford Center because it’s closer to where she lives, but Pelcastre said after comparing her options, it was more reasonable for her to attend WHCL and transfer to a university to continue her education.
Pelcastre said she is currently taking an EMT course at her high school that she can continue and finish at WHCL. She said she would like to one day work in an emergency room as a doctor, but for now, her first step is to attend WHCL as a biology major. She said she’s excited about attending the college and joining clubs, especially because she knows she’ll be spending a lot of time on campus.
“There’s more variety here,” Pelcastre said about her options at the college. “There’s more clubs too.”
Laton High School senior Ernesto Lopez said attending WHCL will give him time to think about what he wants to do, because he’s still undecided. He said he’ll take some basic classes and hopefully find something that piques his interest, like maybe a career in education or journalism.
“If I can get into something and see what it’s about, I might like it,” Lopez said about wanting to take different courses at the college.
As he stood in line to have his picture taken for his student ID card, Lopez said he had already registered for classes for his first year at the college, and he was excited about starting them in the fall. He said attending Eagle Dayz had been helpful, and he made it a point to visit all the booths to get as much information as possible.
Ruble said around 400 students registered for classes at WHCL at their individual schools on Thursday, and he hoped to register another 400 students at Eagle Dayz.
“We’re pretty excited because you guys walked onto our campus today as high school students,” Preston said to the crowd, “By lunch time today, you’ll be in college.”