GARY | Nearly 70 Northwest Indiana students from Gary, East Chicago, Hammond, Knox and Michigan City participated at the Regional Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Career Development Conference last month at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.
JAG students are considered at-risk students who need assistance in completing high school and transitioning to employment or post-secondary education. The Career Development Conference is one way to prepare them for the future by allowing them to compete in events to showcase their job skills.
JAG is a national program which in the 2012-13 year had 32 participating states and 895 programs. The Northwest Indiana region has 10 sites.
“The whole purpose of JAG is to reach out to youth who might be struggling or at a risk of dropping out and to make sure they graduate from high school and have skills to get them to post-secondary education or employment.” said Tamara Stump, Center for Workforce Innovations senior workforce associate.
Students can participate their junior and senior years or just their senior year where they are enrolled in a class at their schools taught by a JAG specialist. In addition to receiving a career exploration credit, students are taught job skills, leadership skills, personal skills and complete community service.
Part of the program is the career development conference where students compete in eight different events. The JAG schools as a whole competed in chapter competitions.
“For a lot of them it was the first time meeting JAG students from different schools,” Stump said. “They were very enthused. This is the first and only opportunity I think a lot of students have to compete at something or belong to a group like this. I talked to some of the judges afterward and they were very impressed. They thought the students came very prepared for each of their competitions.”
Awards were presented at the end of the program recognizing the following recipients who will move on to the state competition March 14 in Indianapolis:
- Career Presentations-Zacahry Weis, AK Smith Area Career Center, Michigan City
- Cover Design-Jasmine Alvarez, Roosevelt College & Career Academy, Gary
- Creative Solutions-Jose Arcinida, Calumet New Tech High School
- Critical Thinking-Kayla Patrick, AK Smith Area Career Center
- Employability Skills-India Rodriguez-Gary West Side Leadership Academy
- Financial Literacy-Damon Ellison-East Chicago Central High School
- Public Speaking-Kayla Case, Calumet New Tech High School
- Writing Skills-Sarah Horstman, Knox High School
In addition, recognition was given to Sabrina Ridgell from East Chicago Central as the JAG Outstanding Senior, Knox High School for its JAG banner and commercial and Roosevelt College & Career Academy for the Service Learning Binder.
Locally the program is a partnership between JAG National, Department of Workforce Development, the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board, NWIWB Youth Employment Council, Job Works and Workforce Development Services.