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Achievers program participants advised to have a game plan and backup plan

September 23, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Loretta McFarland, left, Deandrea Atkinson and Shyann Davis play a game at the Achievers Program kick-off on Sunday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Physician’s assistant, forensic scientist, anthropologist and veterinarian were some of the career choices students mentioned at Sunday’s Achievers kickoff at the Hagerstown YMCA.

“I’m thinking of being a biomedical engineer,” said Lauryn Daniels, 12, who was signing up for the mentoring program for the first time.

Aaron McFarland, 17, a senior at South Hagerstown High School, is a veteran.

“I’ve gotten a lot of knowledge about business and how government works,” McFarland said of the Achievers program.

The aspiring musician said it has also helped him with a skill useful in any profession — time management.

“We care about your future. We want you to have a productive future,” Deborah Phillips, the program’s director for six of its nine years at the Hagerstown YMCA, told the students.

The goal is to sign up at least 30 students for the program, which is open to students from grades six to 12, Phillips said. The program runs through the school year, and students can register anytime during the year, she said.

Students work with adult mentors in business, health care, law enforcement, and arts and culture, Phillips said.

The schedule for the 2012-13 school year includes field trips to businesses and colleges, and meetings with the mentors, including business cluster leader Charmaine Nelson.

Nelson is a stay-at-home mom, but she has a degree in business management, and a background in finance and banking. She described her volunteer role as teaching “Business 101.”

That runs the gamut from filling out job applications to interviewing skills, dressing for success and entrepreneurship, Nelson said. Participants will do a project in which they will learn about running a business, including financing, marketing and human resources.

None of the students who raised their hands about career goals mentioned a business career.

“Even though you did not say business is what you want to do, business will be a big part of what you do,” Nelson said.

“You might graduate with one degree, but the jobs are somewhere else, so you might have to take a second look,” Nelson said before the meeting. “You might have big dreams about where you want to go, but you have to have a fallback position.”

Daniels said she has already toured colleges and is looking forward to more of that with Achievers.

However, if a 12-year-old needs a fallback position, she already seems to have one as an entrepreneur.

“My sister and I started a duct tape business,” she said, explaining that they make handbags, wallets and other items from the universally useful rolls, which they sell to friends, around the neighborhood and in school.

To sign up for Achievers, call Phillips at 301-739-3990, ext. 4239.

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