100 local JAG students participate in Regional Career Development Conference
January 31, 2018 Early Friday morning, January 26, 2018, students from JAG classrooms across the region anxiously gathered in Raintree Hall auditorium at Indiana University Northwest (IUN) in Gary, to represent their school and compete ...   Read More »
January 31, 2018
Early Friday morning, January 26, 2018, students from JAG classrooms across the region anxiously gathered in Raintree Hall auditorium at Indiana University Northwest (IUN) in Gary, to represent their school and compete in events hoping to earn first place and move on to the state competition.
Approximately 100 local high school students competed at the Regional JAG Career Development Conference (CDC). JAG stands for Jobs for America’s Graduates, a national initiative dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk. The Northwest Indiana Workforce Board was instrumental in bringing JAG to Northwest Indiana as part of their youth strategy and the program has had a presence in Northwest Indiana since 2006. Over 1000 youth having participated in the program and transitioned to post-secondary education and training, military, or employment.
Dr. Cynthia Roberts, Dean of the School of Business & Economics at IUN, kicked off the morning welcoming the students to the campus. Cheers and excitement rumbled throughout the auditorium as Roberts announced each represented school. As the welcome came to a close Roberts shared words of encouragement and inspiration reminding the students that just by being at the conference they had already won. Concluding her speech, Roberts wished the student’s good luck as they were instructed to go to their assigned event rooms as the competitions began.
For the first half of the day, students competed in their event category that focused on a skill they had learned and practiced in the classroom leading up to the conference. Competitive events included Career Presentation, Creative Solutions, Critical Thinking, Employability Skills, Financial Literacy, Public Speaking, Writing Skills, and Entrepreneurship Plan. There were also a couple of events where students were judged on entries that required a more creative and technical side—producing a JAG Chapter commercial and the cover design for the CDC Program. Local employers and community leaders served as judges for the events.
A pre-event interview and judging was done for the Outstanding Senior category. This award recognizes a senior, who through the JAG program demonstrates active leadership, academic achievement, community service involvement, and future college and career goals.
As events continued in the classrooms, ten students stayed behind in the auditorium to compete in Public Speaking. Nervously, each student stepped up to the microphone to share their personal stories and experience with JAG while incorporating this year’s topic, “JAG as a roadmap for my future.” Some shared hardships they faced, but one thing they all had in common was their success that followed after joining JAG. Several students shared challenges they faced before enrolling in JAG including abuse at home, skipping class, hanging with the wrong crowd, and lack of motivation to succeed. Each student spoke of JAG with high regards and expressed their gratitude towards their specialists that helped them see their potential, gave them confidence, and helped them define a career path that would give them purpose. Some focused on the opportunities the JAG program creates for students that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to such as job opportunities, community service, leadership and social skills, career paths, and scholarships. Other students described JAG as a support system where they learned to believe in themselves, never give up, and to continue moving forward towards a brighter and better future.
Following lunch, the students met back in the auditorium for a quick fun game of JAG Jeopardy where they were able to test their knowledge on college preparation and process. After the game was the announcement of first, second, and third place event awards to conclude the conference.
Sponsors of the CDC were Indiana University Northwest, Ivy Tech Community College, and Center of Workforce Innovations.
This year’s first place winners who will be heading to Indianapolis for the JAG State competition are:
Career Presentation-Chloe Coleman, Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy
Creative Solutions-Caitlin Clemons, Knox High School
Critical Thinking-Jalecia Baymon, Wirt/Emerson Visual & Performing Arts High Ability Academy
Employability Skills-Jason Randolph, West Side Leadership Academy
Financial Literacy-Victoria Millard, Wirt/Emerson Visual & Performing Arts High Ability Academy
Public Speaking-LaShon Patterson, West Side Leadership Academy
Writing Skills-Janiya Jones, East Chicago Central High School
Entrepreneurship Plan-Cameron McGowan and Kim McDaniel, Knox High School
Outstanding Senior-Te’ Airra Spencer, Calumet New Tech High School
Chapter Commercial-East Chicago Central High School
Cover Design-Tyniah Thomas, West Side Leadership Academy
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