Youth Visualize Their Potential At In-Person Event And Awards Ceremony

On April 29, Youth Solutions hosted the 12th annual Career Development Conference (CDC) in person at the Lansing Center, welcoming 124 Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) program. Youth from across Michigan made their way to the state’s capital to showcase their workplace skills and knowledge through career-based competition.

The day was complete with individual and group events, networking with one another and business leaders, creating a truly immersive experience for Michigan youth to envision their future careers. For many of the youth in attendance, it was their first time both in a city and engaging with youth and business leaders from outside of their hometowns.

​​“The CDC was a great experience for me to put into practice what I’ve learned in JMG. Being in a professional environment was something I’ve never done before, but JMG gave me the confidence I needed,” said Lamont Hawkins, a student at Bridge Academy of Southwest Michigan. “I was inspired by other youth in attendance and liked being part of something bigger (than myself).”

The conference concluded with a luncheon and award ceremony. Keynote speaker Dr. Joe Johnson energized the audience by sharing his story. His energetic speech heavily encouraged youth to think, act and live with purpose and intention. The award ceremony recognized not only the competition winners but also the annual Youth and Alumni of the Year awards, a nomination based award presented to youth who display exceptional leadership, character and commitment to the values of JMG. Winners include:

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Youth of the Year for the Out of School model: Samantha Finch, from Marquette Alger Technical Middle College.
Youth of the Year for the In School model: Irais Cortez, from Hartford High School.
Alumnus of the Year: Delann Pillavent, 2020 valedictorian from Pershing High School in Detroit, who is studying engineering at the University of Michigan on a full scholarship.
Winners by participation in the different event categories include:

Creative Problem Solving:
Eaton County OOS
Luis-Miguel Rivera, Ethan Dawson, Hanalethia Garivay
Marquette Alger Technical Middle College
Tyler McAllister, Persephone Holcomb
Lansing School District
Jacob Miller, Gavin Elanbaas, Javier Ruperto, Donnie (Adam) Dominion
JMG Bowl:
Hartford High School
Andres Cardoso, Jairo Lopez, Emily Muller, Yisell Gonzalez
Michigan Works! Southwest
Paris-Fluker, Aleeiah Cole, Devon VanAmayden, LaKavia West-Martinez, Jaleya Moore
Marquette Alger Technical Middle College
Samantha Finch, Samantha Fortunado, Matthew Basal
Chapter Marketing Competition:
Bridge Academy of Southwest Michigan
James Anthony, Lamont Hawkins, Tijuan Campbell, Jamir Banister, Jaylen Banister, Za’india Street, Brooke Triplett, Jamar Bledsoe, Aidan Low, Ian Watson, Jasmine Laylin, Lindsey Collins
Hartford Giggle Squad, Hartford High School
Eddanie Flores, David Martinez, Maritza Ramon, Janet Francisco, Josaleen Ponce, Rachel Keifer, Biance Lopez
Hartford Bilingual, Hartford High School
Jairo Lopez, Emily Muller, Anderson Pineda, Allan Zaldivar-Vega, Suli Sinai Zavaleta, Sebastian Gonzalez, Sontee Mendoza, Leah Fish, Andres Quiroz, Brenda Parra
Interview Skills:
Saba Khan, Michigan Works! Southwest
Jasmin Garcia, Hartford High School
Jabriana Taylor-Garrett, Pershing High School
Career Preparation:
Elizabeth Garrett, Casman Academy
Sereta Fager, Northwestern Michigan College
Tayeful Islam, Hamtramck High School
The event was made possible thanks in part to all the volunteer judges, the State of Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, Consumers Energy Foundation, Michigan College Access Network, DCI Marketing, Southeast Michigan Construction Academy, Lyons Industries, Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association, Spectrum Health and Michigan Associated Builders and Contractors. Additionally, Michigan Works! partners play a leading role in the work of Youth Solutions.