students posing

WEST HAVEN, Conn. – When West Haven High School students returned to school this fall, a newly redesigned Career Center awaited them. The improved Career Center was introduced during an open house for staff, students, and community members.

“We are very excited to provide WHHS students and alumni the chance to spark their interest and engage them in planning for their future after high school,” said Debbie Kachmar, WHHS School Counselor. “We are offering real-world experiences and providing them opportunities to explore careers in all areas of the workforce. We are working to continue to expand the Career Center and collaborate with community businesses.”

Not only did the Career Center enhance its aesthetics, but the number of programs offered to students also increased. Those included are an EMT program (completion leads to certification as an EMT); the Igniting Talent Internship Program (students placed in three, two-week internships to explore careers of their choice); the Eli Whitney/WHHS Apprenticeship Program (juniors and seniors chosen can take courses leading to certification in Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC, and Sheet Metal); Gateway Community College High School Partnership Certificate Courses (students can take college credit courses leading to a certificate in Early Childhood Special Education, IT, Hospitality, Meetings, Conventions and Special Events Management Certificate, and Retail Management/Fashion Merchandising Certificate); and the Service-Learning Program (four-week Service Learning Opportunity at Yale-New Haven Hospital in which students can choose from Intense Patient Support, Moderate Patient Support, Customer Service, and Behind the Scenes/Staff Support).

“I think that the Career Center offering classes at Eli Whitney is a great opportunity to get a head start on becoming a tradesman,” said WHHS student Joe D’Aurio who is enrolled in the Electrical program at Eli Whitney.

In November, the Career Center sponsored its inaugural “Homecoming Open House” in which WHHS Alumni received help with college applications and financial aid forms. They also received information about trade schools, job opportunities, and career guidance. In addition, the Career Center offers weekly workshops that are open to all students to help them fill out applications for FAFSA (Financial Aid), Gateway Community College, and the Common Application. There is a monthly series called “Career in Criminal Justice” as well, in which students can attend a speaker/workshop to hear from professionals working in the Criminal Justice Career Pathway.

“The Career Center Homecoming was my favorite event thus far,” said Dana Parades, WHHS Principal. “It’s important that our graduates know that they can always come home again. If their original plan didn’t work out, we are here to help set them on a new path.”

After a successful fall, the Career Center continued its momentum and introduced a new program in January, the Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) High School Partnership (HSP), while continuing to develop the Albertus Magnus College HSP which it hopes to offer in the Fall of 2022. Through the SCSU HSP program, students can earn up to 30 college credits at SCSU if they begin taking courses either in the summer leading up to their junior year or during the fall of their junior year. WHHS counselors are responsible for meeting with students to register them and choose appropriate courses.

“I feel excited and lucky to get to experience going to college before finishing high school,” exclaimed Saara Mohammed, a WHHS student enrolled in the SCSU HSP program. “I look forward to attending my next class and learning more!”

In addition to the programs offered, the Career Center also provides students an opportunity to meet and talk with college representatives, view job opportunities through the Career Center website, and school counselors are working with the community to provide internships for seniors, among many other opportunities.

WHHS student Dontae Salvatore added, “I think that the Career Center gives me a head start on what I want to do in life. It also gives me the chance to see if this is what I want to do.” Salvatore is enrolled in the Eli Whitney Certification Program for Electrical.

The Career Center is actively working with its current students and alumni to explore all career pathways and is working with students who plan to go to college, the military, trade schools, or directly to the workforce upon graduation. It is continuing to help students explore their interests and understand the endless amount of options that are available to them. Additionally, the Career Center is looking for community members to take WHHS students on as interns and, if interested, can contact Debbie Kachmar at To learn more about the WHHS Career Center and all that it has to offer, please visit