Junior Achievement of Central Maryland sponsors intensive summer program to prepare high schoolers for life after graduation
Since 1957, Junior Achievement of Central Maryland (JA) has provided local youth with programming that gives them the skills and tools to be successful in the real world.
JA Her Path to Promise, an intensive summer program co-sponsored by Towson University, provides 60 young women access to women mentors, as well as to college campuses, workplaces, hands-on activities and other experiences.
This year’s program, which took place July 25-27, included networking practice, one-on-one mentoring, mock interviews, resume-building and personal-branding guidance from women professionals.
“Having that real-world connection is really important,” said Kim Fabian ‘88, senior vice president of Junior Achievement of Central Maryland. “Linking these young girls with female professionals really gives them that mentorship opportunity that can make a huge difference with the choices they make later in life.”
Her Path to Promise gives students the chance to apply the skills they learned to secure a job or internship during the program’s final day career fair expo, which features local employers from a variety of industries.
One highlight for the participants was mock job interviews with professionals from throughout the region. They mimicked real-world job interviews, with the professionals providing immediate feedback afterward.
Lori Raggio, president of the Chesapeake Human Resources Association (CHRA), took part in this year’s program. A program sponsor, CHRA has sent representatives to Her Path to Promise for the past two years.
For Raggio, who was participating personally for the first time, these types of programs are an opportunity for CHRA to give young women an opportunity to get a sense of what a true interview would be like.
“It’s important because you can never do it too early,” Raggio said of the mock interviews. “When one of these women goes in for an interview against another person who hasn’t had this preparation, she will definitely stand out.”
This marks the third year that Her Path to Promise has been held at TU. The continuing JA/TU partnership has been extra rewarding for Fabian, who serves on the Towson University Foundation’s Board of Directors.
“I love the partnership,” Fabian said. “It adds a lot of credibility to the work we’re doing by being associated with an institution such as this. I think it also makes good sense, because it’s creating a pathway for our women.”
While many of the TU speakers touched on how to get to college, women’s basketball coach Diane Richardson’s speech on leadership struck a nerve with both students and organizers.
Richardson spoke about the ability to lead from where you are, adding that there were no inherent requirements to be a leader — including race, age, or background.
“It was an honor to represent TU because I know how important a program like this is for young girls,” Richardson said. “As an inner-city youth I was the beneficiary of a program like this. To be able to speak with them in a relatable way was inspiring to me.”
With programs like Her Path to Promise, JA helps over 47,000 kids from the region every year. Included are 30 young women from the Girls Empowerment Mission (GEM) who attended Her Path to Promise.
Summer Seal, GEM’s program director, jumped at the chance for her girls to get involved with JA and Her Path to Promise. And after speaking with them during the event, she was convinced the experience was invaluable.
“Many of our girls are first-generation students, and their families don’t understand the college process,” Seal said. “We are able to expose them to so many opportunities that they normally would not get.”
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel's priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland.