Aug 25, 2022
BTE Student Stories
In August 2019, Bridge to Employment launched its first program in Athens, Georgia, in partnership with Communities In Schools of Athens, Cedar Shoals High School, and Janssen. Throughout the three-year program, partners provided a variety of academic enrichment, career exploration, and higher education preparation opportunities to 53 youth attending Cedar Shoals High School from 2019-2022. In particular, the BTE Athens program helped to increase the number of young people enrolling in higher education and pursuing STEM careers through the implementation of applied learning projects, college and career readiness workshops, student leadership opportunities, and parent engagement activities.
During their first year of programming, the BTE Athens participants engaged in a variety of in-person activities that helped strengthen their bond as a cohort, all while building their exposure to STEM2D careers. Participants engaged in workshops that explored the scientific method and DNA extraction, attended field trips where they learned about sustainable agriculture and medicinal herbs, toured the University of Georgia Veterinary School and witnessed a live surgery, toured the Georgia Aquarium, and even participated in a ropes course challenge at the University of Georgia! Students also toured a local Johnson & Johnson facility where they had the opportunity to meet and learn from executives and scientists at the plant. It was a very eventful year, full of teambuilding, networking, and learning.
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As students prepared to transition into year two of the BTE program, the COVID pandemic caused a national shutdown and halt to school programs across the United States, including Cedar Shoals. Not letting this defeat them, the BTE Athens leadership team quickly pivoted programming to virtual events that not only allowed participants to stay engaged as a cohort, but also provided them with customized and individual support as they maintained their engagement from home. BTE participants completed YouScience and Birkman assessments, which allowed them to not only learn more about themselves on a personal level, but also provided them with exposure to career paths that align with their interests, strengths, and needs. BTE participants also worked towards FHI 360’s initiative digital badge credential where they learned about effective leadership and motivating others, cultivating a growth mindset, mind mapping, demonstrating self-awareness, and learning to celebrate failures through grit. This was especially poignant as a great level of initiative was demanded from youth around the globe as they were challenged with continuing their academics for the very first time in a virtual environment, while remaining disciplined in balancing competing priorities and obligations.
As Covid-19 restrictions began lifting at the start of Year 3, BTE Athens participants were finally able to resume in-person activities, which they very much longed for! The timing couldn’t have been better as all participants were in the midst of preparing their post-secondary applications. Not skipping a beat, the BTE leadership team designed group sessions with a professional College Advisor who provided open discussions and general guidance, and fielded Q&A related to college plans and next steps. Students were also provided with one-on-one meetings to address academic concerns, emotional needs, and other areas of support. The final year of BTE programming, particularly with the inclusion of personal supports and a focus on post-secondary planning, really served as a source of motivation, inspiration, and healing for all involved!
Congratulations to the BTE Athens participants and program partners! On behalf of your global BTE family, we wish you all the best as you move on to your next chapter and look forward to staying connected with you! Thank you for making us so proud!
Learn more about the Athens site here.