BH High Student Wins Student of the Year at JMG Career Development Conference

They worked all year on the skills and talents needed to get a quality job, and then headed off to the 10th Annual Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Career Development Conference to showcase those talents and vie for trophies to reward their prowess.

More than 300 youth, volunteer judges and employer partners from across the state convened in Lansing last Thursday, March 21st for the 10th annual Career Development Conference where the youth put on display their leadership and employability skills, competing in employment-inspired events that use the skills learned through the JMG program.

The annual CDC is a capstone of Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates’ (JMG) year-long programming where students demonstrate skills learned throughout the program including interviewing skills, problem solving, product design & marketing and others, all aimed at preparing students for the workplace. JMG, a program of Benton Harbor-based Youth Solutions, Inc., equips young people with the skills needed to overcome barriers and ensures Michigan’s youth win in education, employment, and as citizens serving over 3,000 young people annually across 40+ Michigan cities.

According to Kristin Harrington, Executive Director of Youth Solutions, the future for Michigan’s youth is very bright. With a projected 800,000 new jobs available in the state by 2024, JMG is building a youth talent pipeline from high school graduation into employment. In her opening remarks, Harrington recognized the student leaders that will fill a part of that pipeline, saying, “You are a winner for pushing your boundaries, exceeding your personal limits, and coming outside of your comfort zone to compete in a top caliber employability competition against student leaders from across the state.”

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These outcomes include six consecutive years of graduation rates that are 90-percent or higher for all dropout prevention programming and 85-percent rates of employment, post-secondary education or the military for graduates in that same time frame. In addition, over the past four-years, the JMG graduation rate has exceeded the average school rate by 16.4-percent.

Harrington attributes the program’s success to partnerships across the state including strong support from the State of Michigan’s Talent Investment Agency (TIA) which has been an advocate and close partner for half a decade. In the past five years alone, JMG has increased the number of students served by 530-percent – from 500 young people to over 3,000. Harrington say, “That doesn’t happen without partners who advocate for JMG on a daily basis.”

Other key partners include Strada Education Network, who received the “Advocate of the Year” award, Kinexus Group, the Michigan Works! system, and the State of Michigan Legislature (“Partner of the Year” awardee) who has embraced JMG as the premier choice for education and workforce programming to serve young people representing 63 legislative districts.

Success of the program was exemplified through the “Student of the Year” award winners, Tamia Clay of Benton Harbor High School and Caitlin Steele of Hartford, and the “Alumnus of the Year,” Chloressa Wren, a scholarship-awarded student at the University of Michigan-Flint, and Lewis Williams, an apprentice for DTE Energy. They credit JMG with helping them overcome personal barriers and with preparing them for the workforce by teaching the soft skills employers are looking for in their employees.

Winners by event category included:

Interview Skills – Individual Awards:

Group 1:

  • 1st Place: Paul Tietjen – Charlevoix ISD Career Technical Center, Pellston
  • 2nd Place: Jesus Martinez Jimenez – Hartford High School
  • 3rd Place: Alanzo Garcia – Hartford High School

Group 2:

  • 1st Place: Roy’shun Armstead – Bridge Academy, Benton Harbor
  • 2nd Place: Lashell Winbush – Bridge Academy, Benton Harbor
  • 3rd Place: Michael David-Thomas, Learning and Earning to Achieve Potential (LEAP), Flint

JMG Bowl – Team Award:

  • 1st Place: Phoenix High School, Kalamazoo
  • 2nd Place: River Rouge High School
  • 3rd Place: Benton Harbor High School

Product Design & Marketing:

Group 1:

  • 1st Place: Benton Harbor High School
  • 2nd Place: Hartford High School
  • 3rd Place: Windover High School, Midland

Group 2:

  • 1st Place: SER Learning Academy, Metro Detroit

Creative Problem Solving:

Group 1:

  • 1st Place: Hartford High School
  • 2nd Place: Flint Southwestern Classical Academy
  • 3rd Place: Cody High School – Institute of Technology Cody High School – Medicine & Community Health Academy (tie)

Group 2:

  • 1st Place: West Michigan Works! Service Center
  • 2nd Place: Capital Area Michigan Works! Service Center/Lansing School District
  • 3rd Place: Dearborn Michigan Works! Service Center (ACCESS)

Chapter Marketing Event:

  • 1st Place: Hartford High School
  • 2nd Place: Hartford High School
  • 3rd Place: Dowagiac Union High School

The event was made possible thanks to sponsorships by the State of Michigan Talent Investment Agency, Strada Education Group, Kinexus Group, and Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG). Additionally, Michigan Works! partners play a leading role in the program with special recognition to Capital Area Michigan Works!, GST Michigan Works!, Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, West Michigan Works!, Michigan Works! Southeast, Michigan Works! Southwest, Upward Talent, Networks Northwest, Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium, SEMCA, Michigan Works! Region 7B, and the Michigan Works! Association.

Youth Solutions, Inc. is a premier youth opportunity organization. The leading program, Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates, delivers employability and education services to nearly 3,000 young people across 40+ cities. For more information about Youth Solutions, Inc. or to become a partner, visit online at, follow along on Twitter at JobsforMIGrads, or “like” them on Facebook at JobsforMichigansGraduates.

In the photo accompanying this story on Moody on the Market, Student of the Year, Tamia Clay of Benton Harbor High School receives the award from Youth Solutions Executive Director Kristin Harrington.