ST. PETERSBURG – Last Fri., Aug. 7 friends, family, and Pinellas County School Board members came together at the Poynter Institute to celebrate the graduation of 50 students from this year’s Summer Training In Youth Leadership and Employment Program (otherwise known as S.T.Y.L.E.).
The S.T.Y.L.E. program is provided by the Pinellas County Urban League for students in Pinellas. These teenagers spent eight weeks at Pinellas Technical College and St. Petersburg College working with positive role models, learning work place readiness skills, effective business communication, professional business attire, responsible financing, team building exercises, entrepreneurship and resume building.
They also had the opportunity to travel to different colleges, government buildings and cities throughout the state. School Board member Rene Flowers described the program as “making sure students were on time, dressed for success and prepared for their future.”
During the recognition ceremony, many students spoke of their time in the program. Speaking with both ease and eloquence, many attributed their public speaking skills to S.T.Y.L.E. Student after student thanked their counselors for the knowledge, life experiences and confidence they received over the summer.
“There was a time in my life when I didn’t understand what success looked like, but because of this program, now I know,” said one student, Narasipur Srinivasa.
Pinellas County Judge Michael Andrews who oversees both Pasco and Pinellas County Sixth Judicial Circuit gave a powerful testimony to the members of the graduating class. He explained that although he came from poverty, was labeled a troubled child and had little to no support from his family, he was able to overcome every obstacle in his path.
“There is only one person in this room who is going to decide what you become in your lifetime, and that is person is you, he said. “If someone comes up to you and tries to convince you that you are not capable of achieving your dreams, you just spend that time proving them wrong,” Andrews said.
At the end of the ceremony, each graduate received a certificate and a financial incentive reward honoring their hard work and dedication to the program, to each other and themselves.