Results from the Superintendent’s College & Career Readiness Forum

Photo: Linda Conner Lambeck / Linda Conner Lambeck

Photo: Linda Conner Lambeck / Linda Conner Lambeck

Dr. Gary Cialfi hosted the 4th annual Superintendent’s College & Career Readiness Forum at on Wednesday, January 4. The event that drew more than 350 students, parents, and other community members to the Trumbull High School auditorium was co-sponsored by the Trumbull Business-Education Initiative (BEI) and Trumbull Academic Challenge for Excellence (ACE) foundation.

College and business representatives on the 12-member guest panel expressed their expectations of high school and college graduates and offered recommendations to guide their educational experiences.

That foundation was illuminated by four current THS students and four recent THS graduates currently in college as they shared their personal experiences and insights to help current 8th grade and high school students.

The following is a reprint of Linda Lambeck’s article that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Connecticut Post.

TRUMBULL — Being “branched” at the University of Connecticut’s Stamford campus is not the end of the world.

Not knowing what you want to do with your life in high school — or even college — is not only OK, but common.
Finding one’s passion is as important as good grades. And branching out by switching majors, for instance, might be for the best.

This and other words of wisdom were showered on a good number of the town’s eighth grade population at a special forum held at Trumbull High School this week.

While some of the students in attendance became distracted by friends and cell phones during the 90-minute presentation, most had parents with them to take notes.

“This was amazing,” Michelle Genuario, mom to 13-year-old Bella, said. “I went to college. I have three degrees, but I am so far removed from it, this was good to hear.”

Schools Superintendent Gary Cialfi pointed out that the 2017 Superintendent’s College & Career Readiness for Success Forum wasn’t a college planning night or even an introduction to high school.

Rather, it was a chance to hear firsthand accounts from current and former high school students on how to take advantage of what high school has to offer — for a better future.


How to make the most of College 101

During Trumbull’s Success Forum, sponsored jointly by the school board, Trumbull Business-Education Initiative and Trumbull ACE Foundation, Mark Ligas, an associate dean at Fairfield University, and Jennifer Parzych, a professor at Southern Connecticut State University, offered these essentials for making it at college:


  • Enter college with an open mind. Your major could change. It’s OK.
  • Take risks in the classroom. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
  • Communicate. Ask questions when unsure.
  • Get and accept feedback.
  • Get your money’s worth in class. Be there the entire time.
  • Take advantage of office hours.
  • Form study groups
  • Manage time proactively. Freedom can be a slippery slope.
  • Extracurricular activities matter. It is how you find “your people.”
  • Persist through the tough stuff.
  • Also on hand were a couple of employers and college officials to tell students how to make their college and job applications stand out.

Kate Hampford Donahue, president of Hampford Research, a specialty chemical manufacturer in Stratford, told students the number one thing she looks for is people who love what they do.

“We make some pretty cool stuff,” Donahue said.

Thomas Tesoro, vice president of human resources at Standard Motor Products, told students he sees 1,500 applications for entry level jobs.

“Experiences. Get experiences. Take internships, even if it helps you learn what you don’t want to do. It demonstrates ability to be part of a team,” Tesoro said. “Don’t give me reasons to disqualify you.”

Erin Wingo, a 2015 Trumbull grad and now a student at Clemson University, can relate. She told of taking a summer internship she hated. But she stuck it out, made connections and expanded her LinkedIn network.

Anna Bivona, who graduated from Trumbull High in 2014, said it’s important to have direction, but not necessarily a plan.

“You do not have to have it all figured out,” said Bivona, who switched from business to economics while spending her first two years of college at UConn’s Stamford branch.

“When I got a letter from UConn that I was branched, I felt it was the worst thing that could happen,” Bivona said. But she made the most of it, applying for internships in company-rich Stamford as a freshman and being placed in a digital media agency.

“It was hands down the best decision I made,” Bivona, now a junior and at the Storrs campus, said. “Things aren’t always going to go as planned. Be resilient.”