Getting Real About Getting Young People Ready for the Job Market at One America Atlanta
Their minds set on college, high school seniors Diamond Moore and Jermessia Weems came to tonight's One America College and Career Fair at The New Schools at Carver in Atlanta hoping to learn more about volunteering, college financial aid and opportunities after graduation.
They got the lowdown from Morley Jabon, a recruiter in corporate development at JPMorgan Chase in New York, who traveled to Atlanta for the event.
"I want to make sure they know there are tons of opportunities for them," Morley said. "There's a whole world out there."
That was the message tonight, as dozens of students and volunteer advisers came together for One America. The campaign – led by Chase and Points of Light – includes a yearlong tour that is inspiring millions to unite in volunteer service for their communities. Atlanta was the seventh stop on the tour, which has included New York, Chicago and Houston.
During tonight’s event, actress Keshia Knight Pulliam – best known as Rudy Huxtable, on “The Cosby Show” and Miranda Payne on “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” – received a Daily Point of Light Award for her work encouraging girls to pursue their dreams, including higher education.
In 2011, Pulliam created Kamp Kizzy, a free summer camp in Atlanta that brings girls ages 11 to 16 together to participate in performing arts, sensitivity and cultural diversity training, team-building exercises, creative writing, and lessons in etiquette and public speaking.
Pulliam told the students tonight: "It's not where you start, it's where you end up." The Spelman College graduate said that even though she'd been working as an actress since she was 9 months old, "It never occurred to me not to go to college."
Attendees also heard from leaders from Atlanta’s nonprofit, business and education sectors, who discussed how youth can prepare for the most in-demand jobs.
Rounding out the event, volunteers from Project GRAD worked one-on-one with local families to fill out the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which the federal government and colleges use to determine eligibility for grants, scholarships and loans. Volunteers talked to the families about various financial aid options.
Kalanni Lampkins, a junior at Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta, came with his mother and young brothers. Kalanni, who hopes to study technology and computers in college, is thinking about Howard University in Washington, D.C., or Georgia Tech.
He spent time talking with volunteers from several organizations represented at the fair, including Year Up, which provides technical and professional skills training to urban young adults.
"I tell students to begin with the end in mind,” said Sharonda Neal, a Year Up outreach specialist. “And like Keshia Knight Pulliam said earlier – apply for everything!"
Neal gave Kalanni more than advice – she gave him encouragement.
"One thing I learned tonight is that there are programs that will look at me and know I have potential,” Kalanni said. “I work hard, and I know I need to work harder. But I really need to hear that sometimes."
Find out how you can join the conversation about One America at www.facebook.org/joinoneamerica.