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Youth Visualize Their Potential at In-person Event and Awards Ceremony

Michigan Business Network
May 10, 2022 5:00 PM


BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — 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, and 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:

  • 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:

  1. Eaton County OOS 

    1. Luis-Miguel Rivera, Ethan Dawson, Hanalethia Garivay

  2. Marquette Alger Technical Middle College

    1. Tyler McAllister, Persephone Holcomb

  3. Lansing School District 

    1. Jacob Miller, Gavin Elanbaas, Javier Ruperto, Donnie (Adam) Dominion 

  • JMG Bowl:

  1. Hartford High School

    1. Andres Cardoso, Jairo Lopez, Emily Muller, Yisell Gonzalez 

  2. Michigan Works! Southwest 

    1. Paris-Fluker, Aleeiah Cole, Devon VanAmayden, LaKavia West-Martinez, Jaleya Moore 

  3. Marquette Alger Technical Middle College 

    1. Samantha Finch, Samantha Fortunado, Matthew Basal

  • Chapter Marketing Competition:

  1. Bridge Academy of Southwest Michigan

    1. 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

  2. Hartford Giggle Squad, Hartford High School

    1. Eddanie Flores, David Martinez, Maritza Ramon, Janet Francisco, Josaleen Ponce, Rachel Keifer, Biance Lopez

  3. Hartford Bilingual, Hartford High School

    1. Jairo Lopez, Emily Muller, Anderson Pineda, Allan Zaldivar-Vega, Suli Sinai Zavaleta, Sebastian Gonzalez, Sontee Mendoza, Leah Fish, Andres Quiroz, Brenda Parra

  • Interview Skills:

  1. Saba Khan, Michigan Works! Southwest 

  2. Jasmin Garcia, Hartford High School

  3. Jabriana Taylor-Garrett, Pershing High School

  • Career Preparation

  1. Elizabeth Garrett, Casman Academy 

  2. Sereta Fager, Northwestern Michigan College 

  3. 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.


About Youth Solutions, Inc. Inspiring and connecting youth to achieve a future beyond imagination, Youth Solutions is committed to providing Michigan’s youth with motivation for an education, the experiences that prepare them for a job or career, and the tools to realize their potential. Youth Solutions has positively impacted more than 22,000 youth ages 14 to 24 across Michigan. For more information about Youth Solutions, Inc. or to become a partner, visit us at ouryouthsolutions.org, follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter or like us on Facebook at @ourYouthSolutions.

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