The 7th Annual Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Career Development Conference in Lansing
May 2, 2016
Lansing, Mich. –It was a day of inspiration, competition and camaraderie at the 7th Annual Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Career Development Conference (CDC). Approximately 220 students from across the state gathered in Lansing on Thursday, April 28th to compete in events showcasing employability skills. As Dion Pearson of Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA) stated before heading into his two events, “I love being here at the CDC. We are exposed to a lot of information, get to be around peers and it makes you feel good.”
Students and volunteers agreed that listening to guest speakers Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Matthew Bennett was a highlight of the event. Lieutenant Governor Calley spoke about overcoming adversity in education and in the workplace as well as seeking opportunities to interact with individuals with differing abilities and backgrounds. Lt. Governor Calley encouraged students to contribute solutions to complex challenges in their communities.
Bennett shared with students his mission to fight darkness with light. The audience was laughing at one moment and reduced to tears the next as Bennett explained the struggles early on in his life that left him homeless, behind in school, and traumatized after witnessing the death of his father.
Tyjuan Simmons of Wayne County was just one of many who left the event inspired, “This is the beginning of my journey. I have a long road ahead of me but I’m on the right track and am glad to be a part of Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates.”
The State of Michigan Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and its parent department, the Talent Investment Agency (TIA) was awarded with the JMG Advocate of the Year Award in recognition of their advocacy efforts and support for the organization’s statewide growth. JMG thanked the WDA leadership for their commitment to building a robust youth talent pipeline that benefits Michigan employers. Stephanie Beckhorn, Director of WDA, accepted the award on behalf of the department.
AT&T Michigan was also honored with the JMG Employer Champion Award for its commitment to taking an active role in youth talent development across the state and nation. Through its partnership with JMG, AT&T Michigan provides ongoing talent tours, mentoring, and classroom guest speakers and has funded three Southwest Michigan-based programs, including Benton Harbor High School, Hartford High School, and Dowagiac-Union High School. Gregory Clark, Regional Vice President of External Affairs for AT&T Michigan accepted the award.
Kristin Harrington, Executive Director of Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates, attributed the program’s ongoing success to the commitment of JMG’s extensive partnership network. In her opening remarks, Harrington noted, “Raising statewide graduation and employment rates for youth requires extensive collaboration… Our partnership network includes support from volunteers, employers, state agencies, Michigan Works! organizations, school districts and community colleges. This collective investment in tomorrow’s workforce is an investment in an economically vibrant Michigan.”
Winners by category included:
Employability Skills – Individual Award: 1st Maliah Marisin, Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School; 2nd Alexandria Hernandez-Martinez, Muskegon High School; 3rd Erica Williams, Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School
Public Speaking – Individual Award: 1st Di’maan McGill, Dowagiac Union High School; 2nd Pretia Payne, Muskegon High School; 3rd Madison Brooks, Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School
Financial Literacy – Individual Award: 1st Reece West, Ross Beatty High School; 2nd Anabel Laury, Flint GST Out of School Program; 3rd Rodolfo Mendez, Orchard View High School
Creative Problem Solving – Team Award: 1st Neighborhood Service Organization; 2nd Benton Harbor High School;
3rd Orchard View High School
Product Marketing – Team Award: 1st Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School; 2nd Cody – Detroit Institute of Technology College Prep High School; 3rd Potterville High School
Chapter Marketing Event – Team Award: 1st Lighthouse Academy; 2nd Potterville High School;
3rd Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School
JMG Bowl – Team Award: 1st Parchment High School; 2nd Lighthouse Academy; 3rd Benton Harbor High School
The half-day competition was held at the Lansing Center. Employers and industry experts across a variety of fields served as volunteer judges for the day. The event was made possible thanks to sponsorships by AT&T Michigan, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kinexus, United Way of Southwest Michigan, the State of Michigan’s Workforce Development Agency, the State of Michigan Talent Investment Agency, Walmart Foundations, USA Funds and Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) National.
About Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG):JMG is a state-based affiliate of the national Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program. The national program has been in operation for 36 years, including eight in Michigan. The curriculum focuses on improving graduation rates and ensuring successful transitions into post-secondary education, employment or the military; and provides mentoring, job readiness, leadership development and other academic support for students at risk of dropping out. This year, JMG served nearly 1600 students across 25 Michigan cities with a 94% graduation rate.
About Kinexus:Kinexus is a nonprofit focused on the economic vitality of the southwest Michigan region through integrated business, workforce and community solutions. Kinexus serves as the parent organization of Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates. Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates programming started in Benton Harbor in 2008, and has since expanded statewide. The organization runs programming in Southwest Michigan in partnership with five schools: Benton Harbor High School, Ross Beatty Junior/Senior High School, Dowagiac-Union High School, Hartford High School, and the Bridge Academy.
Contact: Kristin Harrington, Executive Director