Ca­reer expo con­nects stu­dents on path to suc­cess

In­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als share in­sight, in­spi­ra­tional tools at Sur­rattsville High

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com

In an ef­fort to pro­vide net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and help stu­dents learn about the var­i­ous jobs of in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als, Sur­rattsville High School held a “My Story, My Jour­ney” ca­reer expo April 8 in Clin­ton.

The event fea­tured about 10 dif­fer­ent speak­ers — in­clud­ing lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Prince Ge­orge’s County state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice and sher­iff’s of­fice — who gave one-on-one pre- sen­ta­tions to stu­dents, at their as­signed booth, in the school’s gym­na­sium.

In ad­di­tion, stu­dents met in sep­a­rate class­rooms to hear from other speak­ers who at­tended the expo, in­clud­ing Cir­cuit Court As­so­ciate Judge Her­man C. Daw­son.

“The stu­dents go and hear speak­ers talk about what they do for a liv­ing,” said Kirsten

Simp­kins, chair­woman of Sur­rattsville’s coun­selor de­part­ment. “We talked to the stu­dents about try­ing to glean some­thing from ev­ery pre­sen­ter be­cause the power is in the story. And that was our theme to­day... They can learn some­thing from ev­ery per­son in that room. Each of [them] had a dif­fer­ent jour­ney to where [they] are right now.”

Simp­kins said stu­dents were able to learn about Daw­son’s jour­ney, be­ing that he didn’t go to col­lege right af­ter high school.

“Some­one would as­sume be­cause he’s a judge, that that was his path but it wasn’t. And he was able to talk to the stu­dents about what that path looked like,” she said. “Ev­ery one of us has a dif­fer­ent jour­ney and I think the kids were blessed hear­ing that. So that was the main rea­son we wanted to do [this ca­reer expo] — to have that im­pact for them to un­der­stand that there is no per­fect way to do it but you got to get mov­ing.”

For Daw­son, ed­u­ca­tion is the key to ev­ery young per­son’s fu­ture. He said he will go out of his way to make sure ed­u­ca­tion is a top pri­or­ity, es­pe­cially for high school stu­dents.

“I be­lieve they’re go­ing to be the fu­ture and I want to be a part of help­ing them,” Daw­son said. “I want them to see that they can be­come lawyers … and have men­tors who are young black pro­fes­sion­als in the com­mu­nity.”

When it comes to help­ing young peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, Daw­son has his own Satur­day academy which pro­vides tu­tor­ing and men­tor­ing ser­vices for kids in ju­ve­nile court. He said all of the kids who have par­tic­i­pated in his pro­gram re­ceived help with their aca­demics and even got into col­lege.

“We ac­tu­ally work on col­lege ap­pli­ca­tions, es­says for col­lege and get­ting them ready for the SAT and the ACT and then we find some money for them to go to col­lege,” Daw­son said. “For me, do­ing what­ever I did with them in court, they prob­a­bly would not have been where they are to­day. And that re­ally makes the court and the judge feel good — to be a part of help­ing turn their lives around.”

An­other per­son who is help­ing to turn the lives of young peo­ple around is Ali­cia Adams, founder and CEO of Beau­ti­fully Brown Me. Adams said her com­pany is about cel­e­brat­ing and em­pow­er­ing “brown girls and women” to un­der­stand that they are beau­ti­ful and have im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tions to make in the world.

“We don’t al­ways get those mes­sages through the me­dia, through tele­vi­sion, through the mag­a­zine and all of the vi­su­als that they see. So I wanted to be a part of the pos­i­tive images that our young girls see,” Adams said. “I want to make sure that there is no doubt in their mind and I know that it’s very hard. I have to be very in­ten­tional about that mes­sage. I can’t just as­sume that they’re go­ing to get it with­out me be­ing very ex­plicit in show­ing them ex­am­ples of other women who look like them do­ing amaz­ing things. That’s what in­spired me to start this ven­ture and I’m glad to be able to touch other women and girls.”

As a for­mer high school teacher and ad­min­is­tra­tor at Friend­ship Col­le­giate Academy in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Adams said in­spir­ing girls has to start “from day one” at birth. Even the kids who seem the most con­fi­dent “do not value them­selves in a way that they need to” deep down in­side, she said.

“I just see the im­pact of the choices that young ladies make when they don’t value them­selves. It’s so im­por­tant to start from an early age to in­still that con­fi­dence and that sense of im­por­tance so that they know ‘you have a pur­pose in this world to be ful­filled and you need to stay on the path to­ward that,’” she said. “A lot of our girls just in­ter­nal­ize mes­sages and they may not say it, so you may not even know. … Deep down, they don’t see them­selves in col­lege [or] do­ing great things. But there’s so much greatness in them and it’s re­ally a shame. So we have to send that mes­sage to them.”

Adams’ goal with Beau­ti­fully Brown Me is to spread the true mes­sage that young girls and women are beau­ti­ful be­cause God made them that way. Any­thing that tries to make them feel oth­er­wise is a “lie” and is wrong, she said.

“Once they start to have that con­fi­dence and see suc­cess, then the con­fi­dence and suc­cess be­comes a cy­cle and then they pro­pel them­selves to higher lev­els,” said Adams. “I want to make sure that all of our girls get that mes­sage as early as pos­si­ble.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES

Prince Ge­orge’s County Cir­cuit Court As­so­ciate Judge Her­man C. Daw­son speaks to a group of stu­dents and staff dur­ing a ca­reer expo on April 8 at Sur­rattsville High School in Clin­ton. Daw­son has sat on the bench since Dec. 21, 1998, and is a mem­ber of the Prob­lem-Solv­ing Courts Com­mit­tee.

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