One of the most exciting events in a young person’s life is getting that first job offer. Recently, several area youth experienced that thrill when the Next Generation Career Academy hosted its third job signing event.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, interns, employers, and special guests participated virtually. Twelve recent graduates signed commitments to full or part-time employment with seven local businesses that participated in the Next Generation Career Academy’s internship program.
Due to COVID-19, this year was unlike any other year with regard to the second half of the school year and student internships. The academy’s internship program officially ended March 14 due to COVID-19, and at that time there were 38 interns in positions. Seventeen students were able to continue working for their employers. The following recent graduates and their employers were recognized:
• Carley Johnson – Chatham Nursing and Rehab. Her mentor was Brooke Johnson, social services director. Carley accepted a certified nursing assistant (CNA) position with Chatham Nursing and Rehab. She is a graduate of North Surry High School and will attend Surry Community College to study nursing.
• Michaela Stone – Chatham Nursing and Rehab. Her mentor was Brooke Johnson, social services director. Michaela recently graduated from North Surry High School and will attend Catawba College in the fall to study nursing. Michaela accepted a CNA position with Chatham Nursing and Rehab.
• Dylan Toney – Hardy Brothers. His mentor was Justin Lewis, maintenance director. Dylan accepted a trailer service technician position with Hardy Brothers. He is a Surry Central High School graduate and will attend Forsyth Tech in the fall to study diesel and heavy equipment technology.
• Branigan Raasch – JR Lynch and Sons. His mentor was Mark Lynch, vice president. Branigan accepted a laborer and welder position with JR Lynch and Sons. He is an East Surry High School graduate and will attend Surry Community College in the fall to study construction management.
• Lacey Caviness – Northern Regional Hospital. Her mentor was Patty Creed, director of critical care. Lacey graduated from Surry Central High School and will attend Surry Community College in the fall. She worked in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and plans to transfer to Appalachian State University to become a physician’s assistant. Lacey accepted a CNA position with Northern Regional Hospital.
• Kiersten Lester – Northern Regional Hospital. Her mentor was Jenny Triplett, director of skilled nursing. Kiersten accepted a CNA position with Northern Regional Hospital. She worked in the Skilled Nursing Unit and is a graduate of East Surry High School. She will continue her education at Surry Community College to become a nurse.
• Katelyn Ward – Northern Regional Hospital. Her mentor was Liz Persaud, director of the Birthing Center. Katelyn is a graduate of East Surry High School. She worked on the Obstetrics Floor and will continue her education at Surry Community College to study nursing. She accepted a CNA position with Northern Regional Hospital.
• Jonathan Lara – Smith-Rowe, LLC. His mentors were Jody Phillips, vice president, and Richard Smith, project manager. Jonathan served as a field support intern and accepted a construction yard laborer position with Smith-Rowe. He graduated from Surry Central High School and will work full-time while attending Surry Community College in the fall.
• Reagan Richardson – Smith-Rowe, LLC. Her mentors were Jody Phillips, vice president, and Richard Smith, project manager. Reagan accepted a welder position with Smith-Rowe. She is a graduate of North Surry High School and will continue working toward her welding degree at Surry Community College. Reagan is also the first North Carolina Department of Labor intern under the age of 18 approved to work in a welding facility. Vice President of Smith-Rowe Jody Phillips was instrumental in getting the legislation passed that enabled Reagan to be approved by the Department of Labor to begin her internship at Smith-Rowe at are 17.
• Caleb Byrd – Surry Communications. His mentor was Frankie Southard, customer service manager. Caleb accepted a customer care representative position with Surry Communications after being employed for one year. Caleb graduated from East Surry High School and will seek to further his education by pursuing a degree in diesel and heavy equipment technology from Forsyth Tech Community College.
• Cheyenne Seal – Surry Communications. Her mentor was Frankie Southard, customer service manager. Cheyenne graduated from North Surry High School and will continue with her education by attending Surry Community College to pursue business administration. She accepted a Customer Care Representative position with Surry Communications after starting her internship experience as a sophomore at 15 years of age.
• Jordan Koehler – Ultimate Towing and Recovery. His mentor was Gina Nichols, manager. Jordan accepted a mechanic position with Ultimate Towing and Recovery. He is a graduate of East Surry High School and will attend Forsyth Tech Community College to study diesel and heavy equipment technology.
The Next Generation Career Academy originated from an idea and partnership between Surry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Travis L. Reeves, Surry Community College President Dr. David R. Shockley. The academy was created out of a recognized need from local businesses looking for skilled workers. The academy provides high school students the opportunity to gain work experience to foster connections between classroom learning and the world of work.
“It is a unique opportunity for our schools and our community college to work together seamlessly to do what is right for our students, our businesses, and our community,” said Career Coach Crystal Folger-Hawks. “It is a pleasure to work with our businesses but it is especially a privilege to work with the students.”
“It has been a pleasure partnering with Surry County Schools and all of the businesses and industries,” Shockley said. “I see this effort as a continuing evolution of what we are trying to do at Surry Community College to provide the technical education and expertise that would allow businesses and industries to flourish. Through our efforts, we can compete, help our area flourish, provide the quality of life that our citizens deserve, and earn a good living wage that provides socioeconomic mobility. This is one of the most exciting experiences I have been a part of in my educational career.”
“Surry County Schools is a next-generation school district equipping all students with the skills necessary to be successful whether they pursue college or careers,” Reeves said. “The Next Generation Career Academy is one way we meet these most important student needs. What an exciting time to live, learn, and lead in Surry County. Students are gaining invaluable experiences that they will be able to take with them wherever they go in life, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Especially during the recent changes in the economy, it is uplifting to see our talented students commit to working in our community.“