Tamika Key went to the Catch Your Success One Stop College Fair to get her niece registered for college.

Instead, a new opportunity opened up for her. Houston Community College advisors showed Key a little-explored field for women, and Key enrolled herself in the Welding Technology program.

Key has already graduated from the HCC Certified Nursing Associate degree program.

“It’s time for something different,” she said. “I want to be able to buy a house and not worry about finances. My new career as a welder will make that dream a reality.”

Changing lives through education is the ultimate goal of the event, which took place at the Northeast Multi-Service Center. This was the first of a series of one-stop college fairs that are free, bilingual, and open to the public. Representatives from higher education institutions, workforce organizations, and support services provide vital information about college admissions, financial aid, transportation options, resume building, and career opportunities.

“We wanted to partner with all these resources and have a fair at a multi-service center in the community because college events can be intimidating for many,” said Dr. Melissa Gonzalez, HCC chief of staff.

The Catch Your Success One Stop College Fairs are an initiative of Houston Health Department My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), a local and national effort designed to improve life outcomes for young men of color and their communities. HCC is part of the MBK Milestone 4, which is to make sure all Americans complete the post-secondary education or training needed for successful careers.

“If we really want people to be college ready and make college accessible, we have to go where the people are,” said Kristi Rangel, public health education chief, MBK-Houston Movement.

For Tamika Key, it was all about timing. This fall, she will be among the thousands of HCC students starting new chapters in their lives.