ST. PETERSBURG – The Pinellas County Urban League’s annual Summer Training In Youth Leadership & Employment (S.T.Y.L.E.) program showcased their 2017 class earlier this month at Pinellas Technical College (PTC). Forty-eight students successfully completed the job-training program this year.
The S.T.Y.L.E. program selects approximately 50 young people between the ages of 14 and16 to participate in its annual on-the-job entrepreneurial training and professional skills development program that has been in existence since 2009.
Through a series of workshops, seminars and field trips, the youth received training in the areas of employability skills, leadership development and career development/college preparation.
Participants also received a $500 stipend for completing the eight-week course.
For 15- year-old Jared Young, an 11th-grade scholar and athlete at Lakewood High School, the S.T.Y.L.E. program could not have intersected with his life at a better time.
“When I started the program, I thought I would just go through the program and just focus on the program, but there were some bumps along the way,” said Jared.
What Jarred went through could have been a very reasonable excuse for him to decide to quit before the eight weeks were up.
“One of the bumps was my mother passed halfway through the program. Even though a major part of my family was gone, I still felt the true compassion and love of the 50 students and the four instructors,” explained Jarred.
Jared’s father stated that the painful experience of losing a mother and wife brought them closer together.
“Since there are only two of us in the household, we are strengthening our lines of communication, verbal as well as non-verbal,” said Patrice Young.
Jared acquired an extended family this summer that no doubt helped him through the grieving process.
“It was truly a blessing to come somewhere and feel like every time you are there, you feel family around you.”
The young man was not about to throw himself a pity party on stage. He did quite the opposite revealing a spiritual strength and maturity far beyond his years.
“Not only did I make a family [here], but I also will be making $500 that I will be receiving at the end of the program,” he said to a room full of laughter.
Five years from now, Jarred plans to attend PTC to broaden his music skills and become a music producer by the time he is 21 years old.
Next, 15-year-old Angeline Evans graced the podium. Like Jared, Angeline found S.T.Y.L.E. to be a home away from home.
“This program is what I call a breath of fresh air,” said Angeline.
The astute young black woman acknowledged that preconceptions of what she was supposed to be in life had already been set. Whoever set those parameters knew absolutely nothing about the home she was raised in.
“Without God, I would not be where I am today,” said Angeline. “I thank my father especially because he is an ordained man of God.”
Angeline talked about the instructor who had the most influence on her successful outcome in the program.
“What I didn’t know when I first came into this program is that I would meet someone like Mrs. Pacherrah Faulkner,” said Angeline.” Mrs. P is one of a kind. She portrayed what a humble, independent and well-put together African-American woman is. Mrs. P really cares about the futures of all 50 of the S.T.Y.L.E. 2017 participants.”
Faulkner used her own life story as a point of reference to relate to the students, and judging by Angeline, her sincerity touched the class.
Gibbs senior D’Errica Denise Daniels expressed how the program improved her presentation skills.
“I learned how to speak in front of a great crowd, how to read something and constantly look up for good eye contact and how to posture myself,” said D’Errica.
D’Errica hopes to apply what she has learned on future job interviews. The young lady will be graduating from the Business Economic Technology Academy at Gibbs High School next summer and plans to attend the University of South Florida next fall.
Dunedin freshman Ebony Scott was not on board with the S.T.Y.L.E. program at the beginning of the summer.
“I want my money; that’s all I’m here for,” said Ebony about her earlier days in the program.
But being around peers like Jared, D’Errica and Angeline changed her attitude.
“Now when I go to a job interview, I don’t have to try to figure out what I have to say because now I know actually what I have to do in order to get the job.”
“My plans for the future are to become an OBGYN and possibly go to the University of Miami,” said St. Petersburg Collegiate IB sophomore Kerstyn Elaine Russell.
Like her peers before her, Russell said the S.T.Y.L.E. program stepped up her interviewing game for success.
“The benefits I got out of this program is actually how to interview and do a good interview and not do something that would make a fool out of yourself and not to get so nervous and not look people in the eye,” said Kerstyn.
Parents and guests cheered while others shed tears as the youth filed in one by one to receive their certificate of completion, shake each dignitary’s hand at the front of the stage, and of course, collect their $500 check.
For more information about the program for next year, interested parties can contact Roshne Ramjattan at 727-327-2081 x121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.