The Benton Harbor-based group Youth Solutions which operates state wide across Michigan in helping young people succeed in both education and employment has announced the winners of several key awards under the Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates flag honoring those young people for outstanding achievements.
Youth Solutions nonprofit support system is recognizing three youth for outstanding accomplishments as “Student and Alumni of the Year” through its premier program, Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG). Every year, specialists nominate youth leaders who achieve significant milestones on their path to graduation and post-secondary or employment success. Winners are chosen by the members of the Youth Solutions’ Board of Directors and, as is the case every year, the exemplary nominations made it difficult to choose the winners. Once winners were chosen, virtual celebrations took place as the students were informed of their awards.
The “Student of the Year” award is given to a student who demonstrates leadership skills throughout the program year, and who is an outstanding asset to the JMG community. From the eleven nominations received, the board chose two inspirational youth to receive the award.
Kyra Gibson of Marquette-Alger Technical Middle College in partnership with Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! and Cheyenne McMillon from Kalamazoo RESA Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) and Michigan Works! Southwest were selected as this year’s JMG “Student of the Year.”
Gibson, an excellent communicator who faced healthcare barriers along the path to her goals, successfully completed her first college semester, co-planned a fundraiser to help fellow students with travel costs to their college courses, and became a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). She is now pursuing an online Associates of Applied Science in Surgical Technology at Northern Michigan University (NMU) while working full-time on the front lines during COVID-19. Meagan Staton, Gibson’s JMG specialist says, “Kyra exemplifies what it means to be not just a student leader, but a servant leader. Her career and education goals are not just to better her life, but that of her family. All her actions are to better her fellow students and leave the JMG program better than she found it.”
Cheyenne McMillion’s nomination begins, “It is an honor and privilege to write this nomination for Cheyenne McMillon for Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates Student Leader of the Year. Without a doubt, Cheyenne epitomizes the very best of student leadership, resilience and determination.” When McMillon entered JMG in August of 2019 she was a single mom who had dropped out of high school and was unemployed. Upon completion of her GED, she began a paid internship and enrolled in an Early Childhood Education Apprenticeship Program and was ultimately offered a permanent position. She has been very active in the JMG program as a mentor to others, as a leader in all community service projects and as a motivational peer. She did this while taking care of her daughter, attending class, and working.
The “Alumni of the Year” award is given to a former JMG student who was a leader in their JMG school or program, is an outstanding asset to the JMG community, and someone who has had a positive outcome such as employment, military, or post-secondary education at the time of nomination.
“Alumni of the Year” Juwan Trainor, a youth from the JMG Ingham County Jail program in partnership with Capital Area Michigan Works! and Peckham, Inc., overcame many personal and health-related barriers to work toward and achieve his goals to provide a better life for himself and his family. While incarcerated, Trainor obtained his GED and earned a trustee position within the jail that came with a lot of responsibility. Upon release he immediately secured full time employment. Most recently, he successfully passed his Department of Transportation physical and drug test and is working on his commercial drivers license. Aside from improving his personal growth, he continues to mentor those that are still incarcerated as they work to overcome their barriers. In his acceptance video he explained, “JMG helped me get through all those fears I had. My next step in life is to keep moving forward. I can’t be stopped right now; I’m going to keep going.”
Kristin Harrington, Executive Director of Youth Solutions, Inc, says, “We believe that all our students are winners for pushing their boundaries, creating and accomplishing their personal goals, and placing an emphasis on their futures.” She points out, “Every year, these two awards emphasize the importance of JMG in the lives of Michigan’s young people and I’m proud of the students and specialists for their accomplishments in ensuring Michigan youth succeed in education, employment, and life.”
JMG, Youth Solutions’ leading program, provides service to 3,300+ youth hailing from 245 cities, towns, and villages across the state of Michigan. JMG has had seven 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 five years, the JMG graduation rate has exceeded the five-year state average by 15-percent.
Youth Solutions, Inc. is on a mission to equip young adults with the skills to overcome barriers and win in education, employment, and as citizens. Through proven education and employment-related solutions, they work to ensure Michigan’s young people earn a high school credential and begin down a pathway towards meaningful careers and economic mobility. The Student and Alumni of the Year recipients are on that pathway and Youth Solutions cannot wait to see what they do next.
For more information about Youth Solutions, Inc. or to become a partner, you can visit at http://www.ouryouthsolutions.org and “like” them on Facebook at JobsforMichigansGraduates.