Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Interns for Walker County

From Left: Emily, Stephanie, Aundrea, Bullet, Mary Caroline and Jeff


As the heat index rises, the lightning bugs become aglow, and an abundance of fresh produce returns to our kitchens, it is clear that summer is again upon us.  For the Walker Area Community Foundation, the onset of summer signals the arrival of a new batch of students from The University of Alabama who serve for eight weeks as Jean O’Connor Snyder Interns.  The internship is a partnership between Alabama’s New College, David Mathews Center for Civic Life, and the foundation.  The interns, who spend the summer working for the foundation and various community partners throughout Walker County, immerse themselves in life in the area. Years past have brought interns who discover a passion for service in Walker County, and we hope this year will be no exception.  This summer’s interns have diverse backgrounds and interests, yet their common denominator is each student’s steadfast dedication to service.  We hope that throughout the summer you will have a chance to meet and get to know the interns on a personal level. 

So without ado, here are this year’s interns…

Aundrea Bevis is a fifth year senior pursuing a double major in Psychology and the Sociology of Health. She is passionate about health in regards to its social dynamic and is interested in addressing health disparities in communities due to the class system. She is especially interested in mental health disparities and addiction and recovery. Aundrea is originally from Suffolk, Virginia, but her current hometown is Killen, Alabama. In her free time she likes to cook and run. 

Emily Pickert is a junior at the University of Alabama studying nonprofit management with a concentration in the arts through New College. She loves the arts, especially visual arts, and hopes to one day open and run her own organization dedicated to them. She is incredibly excited to work with Walker County and to learn about and meet many new people.

Jeff Rogers is from Birmingham, Alabama.  He graduated from Mountain Brook High School in 2013 and joined the University of Alabama Class of 2017, majoring in Chemical Engineering. He is passionate about public education and hopes to make an impact in shaping the way we interact with students to make their experience in school more productive and personal.  He enjoys reading, golfing, and listening to music in his spare time.  This summer Jeff will be working with the Walker Area Center for Technology.
Stephanie Ray is from Birmingham, Alabama and is currently pursuing a dual degree in Elementary and Special Education at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She is also studying Nonprofits through New College. She is passionate about Education and Education policy, specifically concerning low-SES and at-risk individuals. Her dream is to establish a mentoring program and facility for foster youth and at-risk youth. This summer, she will be working closely with the Walker Area Community Foundation on connecting nonprofits throughout the area.

Mary Caroline May is a recent graduate of The University of Alabama, where she pursued an interdisciplinary degree in Community Development through New College.  Her admiration and passion for Walker County brought her back to Jasper this summer to serve as intern coordinator after she spent summer 2014 working on the foundation’s Early Childhood Education initiative.  Mary Caroline is passionate about connecting with people and seeing communities and individuals develop and realize their goals.  She plans to attend The University of Alabama School of Law in August.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Parents Should Know when Preparing Kids for College

How many of us as kids dreamed about all the heroic jobs we could have when we were older? We  wanted to rescue people from harm, care for animals or maybe be the next President. 

How many of us as parents still dream these dreams for our children? We hope they will do something with purpose and make enough money along the way to support their family. It is important that we research all the facts first or we could be in a world of financial trouble with children struggling to find jobs.

Youth Leadership Walker County heard interesting presentations on this at our recent meeting.  I have tried to highlight the "takeaways" from each panel participant's talk. 

Shawna McCullar, the Career Coach for the Walker County and Jasper City School Systems

  • If you aren't doing well on the ACT, take the SAT. ACT tests for achievement, SAT tests critical thinking. You may do better on one than the other...and colleges accept both.
  • 30% of the students in a certificate program at our community colleges already have a 4 year degree
  • 60% of the jobs in Alabama require a two-year certificate or associates degree, 20% require no degree / certificate at all and 20% require a four year bachelors degree.
  • If you do not receive a full-ride from a four year institution, you will save your family A LOT of money by starting at a community college
  • Students should be looking at the following websites before choosing their higher education institution:
    • According to their website, "O*NET OnLine is an interactive application for exploring and searching occupations". 
    • which helps with career planning, financial aide, life after high school and many other resources

Ronica Raines, Bevill State Community College (BSCC), Director of Alabama Access to Higher Education

Mrs. Raines gave the following thoughts about Dual Enrollment:

  • Students have the opportunity to attend Bevill State Community College while in high school to simultaneously earn both high school and college credits 
  • Students should first look at the Stars Guide to find classes that will transfer but are also needed in their chosen work field.
  • Some of these Dual Enrollment classes actually happen in the high schools, while others occur on the BSCC campus

LaToya Cosby, BSCC Director of Student Support Services

Ms. Cosby's presentation was full of "takeaways" that our students learned were necessities when applying for and keeping jobs.  What are soft skills and why are they needed? Good question and one that can be answered in many ways:

  • Soft skills are not technical but intangible skills that define a person 
  • Hard skill examples:
    • typing, writing, math, reading and the ability to use software programs;
  • Soft skills examples: 
    • Etiquette, 
    • Getting along with others, 
    • Listening 
    • Engaging in small talk
    • Teamwork
    • Communication
    • Flexibility
    • Patience
    • Time management
    • Motivation
  • Soft skills are not easy to come by. They have to be practiced and honed over the years. Students should start working on these now!
  • Soft skills should be included on cover letters and resumes as they are just as important now as hard skills.

At the end of the day, we all want our children to be successful and we as parents can help.