How Jobs for Ohio’s Graduates program helps students thrive

Evvie Chisler will be the first one to let you know that she has a story to tell. She wasn’t always the gregarious and creative high school graduate she is today. She was homeschooled her entire school career, until something changed inside her at 15 years old. Even at that young age, Evvie realized her actions and lack of commitment to her studies did not reflect her ambitions for her future self.

Evvie decided to advocate for herself. “I really needed the extra activities you can get in public school, especially the social interaction.”

She asked her mother if she could make the switch from home to public schooling. With her parent’s blessing, Evvie enrolled at Maple Heights Educational & Career Advancement Center (Maple Heights ECAC) in early 2020.

There, Evvie signed up for JOG and met her career specialist instructor, Miss Ackley. In the beginning, Evvie wouldn’t complete her work, so Miss Ackley would call her every day to check in on her. It wasn’t until months later that Evvie decided to make a change and apply herself.

“I have a learning disability, so it was difficult for me to grasp all of it because it was many new things,” she said. “I was worried people would think ‘she doesn’t know this, she doesn’t know that,’ but that’s not the case. I started answering Miss Ackley’s calls and doing my JOG assignments. Only I could motivate myself to do the schoolwork.”

As Evvie began to apply herself, with Miss Ackley by her side, she found an openness to connect with others. With new school friends, a caring teacher and her supportive parents, Evvie took off. She competed in JOG’s culminating event of the program, the Youth Career Olympics, where she won medals in competitions. In 2022, Evvie won the most esteemed award: first place in the public speaking category. She shared her speech to a room of more than 500 JOG peers and members of the Cleveland business community.

“YOU’s JOG really helped me become who I am today. It’s just an amazing experience. If there’s a JOG program at your school, go for it. I know it might seem like a lot at the time, but once you’re done with it, you’re going to have certificates you can use in your career, things to talk about and a network of business connections,” Evvie said.

Evvie completed her senior year as the vice president of leadership development of the JOG Career Association. She is about to start her second internship to get closer to her goal of becoming a fashion designer. She is also spending the summer working a part-time job, designing her second self-made dress and working on her resume for future opportunities.

YOU offers JOG at several area high schools as an in-school, evidence-based program with a focus on career development, high school graduation, post-high school success, employability and leadership skills. To learn more about YOU and youth workforce development, visit youthopportunities.org. To hear Evvie’s award-winning Youth Career Olympics speech, visit https://tinyurl.com/evviespeech.

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