SIUE Upward Bound Scholars Academy Program Encourage Students to Engage Professionals
The joy of dancing. The thrill of theater. The love of teaching art. The pleasure of culinary arts. These things and more can be experienced if a person has the desire and commitment to pursue a career in the arts.
Students from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center Collinsville’s Upward Bound Scholars Academy (UBSA) program listened in on why a group of panelists decided on their careers and how they arrived at their destination.
“We are exposing our students to a host of careers and professionals during our summer Friday Career Exploration Speaker Series,” said Yvonne Hart, UBSA program director. “The students have an interest in a myriad of things. Instead of me talking about the various career choices, we thought it better to have the students question the professionals for themselves. Virtual learning through zoom has provided an exciting opportunity to interact with people beyond the Greater St. Louis region.”
Hart, along with staff members Stephanie Bargiel, UBSA summer coordinator and SIUE public health graduate student, and Kayla Grobe, UBSA summer teaching assistant and SIUE art therapy graduate student, contacted professionals in the fields of nursing, public health, accounting, education, arts, public policy, psychology, law and business. In addition, the career exploration panels would not be possible without the support of Julie Monken, Senior Executive of The Exploring programs for the Boy Scouts of America, Greater St. Louis Area Council.
Hart, along with her graduate assistant Stephanie Bargiel, UBSA summer coordinator and SIUE public health graduate student, surveyed program students about their career interests and contacted professionals in the fields of nursing, public health, accounting, education, arts, public policy, psychology, law and business.
The five-week Zoom presentations, which began June 19, are held from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Fridays through July 24.
Guests for the June 26 and July 10 panel included:
- Rafael Collazo, political affairs director, UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization; and host of “Found in Translation,” the country’s longest running independent Latino- led news talk podcast
- Kirk Greer, business administrative associate for the SIUE East St. Louis Center
- Michael Maldonado, high school counselor at the International School of Kenya
- Kathryn Bentley, associate professor in the SIUE Department of Theater and Dance, artistic director of SIUE’s Black Theatre Workshop and director of the SIUE Black Studies Program
- Mark Favazza, chef and general manager at Favazza’s Restaurant, St. Louis
- Suzanne Gorgas, assistant professor of fine arts at Joliet (Ill.) College and director of the Laura A. Sprague Art Gallery
- Vielia Jeffries-Evans, art teacher at Jackson Park Elementary School in the University City School District, St. Louis
- Amy Johnson, director of the Union Colony Children’s Music Academy in Greeley, Colo.
Guests slated for the Friday, July 17 panel include:
- Arne’ Burns, community worker providing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) education to East St. Louis and surrounding areas, University of Illinois Extension Education
- Shannon Kaecker, therapist at Adventure Works of Dekalb County, Inc.
- Frank Lyerla, PhD, associate professor in the SIUE Department of Primary Care and Health Systems Nursing and director of the SIUE Health Informatics Program
- Dillon Meyer, senior accountant at West & Company, LLC in Edwardsville
- Deni Taveras, county council member in Prince George’s County, Md., and chair of Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee
“In visiting with our career panelists, students realize that work skills used in one job are transferrable to other jobs and careers,” concluded Hart. “They also can see that passion, perseverance and building positive relationships with others will be essential to achieving success.”
Upward Bound Scholars Academy (UBSA) is a TRIO program federally funded by the U.S. Department of Education. UBSA serves high school students, ages 14-18, from low-income families and from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.
SIUE East St. Louis Center Collinsville’s Upward Bound Scholars Academy Program Director Yvonne Hart (second from left at top) leads program students and presenters in a Friday Career Exploration Speaker Series on July 10.