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CHA Leadership Institute

27 teens graduate from Summer Leadership and Banking Institute program at Roosevelt

Posted: 08/10/2012
Like many promising high school students living in CHA housing, Joushlyn, 17, and Jessica, 16, (picture above during a dress-for-success shopping spree) do all they can to stay off the street, out of harm’s way and on a path toward a college education and promising career.

That is why the two took part over the summer in the first annual Summer Leadership and Banking Institute, a pilot educational and professional development program for promising CHA teens sponsored by CHA and BMO Harris Bank and held June 26-Aug. 3 at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

“We learned about getting ready for job interviews, about leadership and about becoming an entrepreneur,” said Jessica Jones, a junior at Chicago’s Air Force Academy High School who hopes to become a veterinarian who will one day be able to open her own animal shelter.

“They taught us a lot about the cost of college and that we really need to work on getting scholarships,” added Joushlyn, a senior at Air Force Academy High School who hopes to become the first in her family to go to college when she graduates from high school next year.

The two were among 27 CHA teens with high school grade point averages of 3.0 or higher who were selected for the summer program that introduced them to components of financial literacy, developed writing and leadership skills, and provided opportunities for the teens to meet with career professionals, to see Beauty & the Beast at Navy Pier and to take a shopping trip for business attire at Macy’s State Street Store.
“I feel that these teens were afforded a safe haven and a great learning environment every day at Roosevelt University,” said Gabe Wilson, a Roosevelt University graduate sociology student who directed the pilot initiative.

“The fact is, the summer has not been a safe one in Chicago, and this has been an opportunity for these teens to gain knowledge and have some fun.  I truly believe it’s the kind of program that can help our young people stay safe and get ahead both now and in the future,” Wilson added.

The Summer Leadership and Banking Institute included a lesson in dressing for success by a Macy’s guest speaker as well as a $150 gift card for each student in the program, which was made possible by program support from CHA, BMO Harris Bank and Macy’s.

“You are well on your way to becoming the leaders of tomorrow,” CHA Chief Executive Officer Charles Woodyard told graduates during closing ceremonies held Aug. 3 in Roosevelt’s new 32-story Wabash Building.

“I’ve been inspired by the enthusiasm of the teens who have participated in this program,” added BMO Harris Executive Vice President Michael Lewis. “It shows that you can make a difference in your own lives and in your communities and it is the kind of program that we hope can continue in the future,” he said.

The start-up program was administered by Roosevelt’s Academic Student Success Center, as part of efforts of the University’s Office of Enrollment Management and Student Services, under the direction of Vice President Sallye McKee, and in support of a successful transition from high school to college for disadvantaged youths.

Wearing black jackets and skirts with red blouses at the program’s closing ceremony that they bought at Macy’s, Joushlyn and Jessica Jones both said the experience had prepared them well for what they will need to do for success at college, in their careers and in their communities.

The sisters, who took advantage of discount sales at Macy’s, each had $40 left over on their gift cards, which they both gave to their mother to help with expenses at home.

“We will be the first in our family to graduate from college,” said Joushlyn, who hopes to study criminal law. “And this program has definitely brought us a step closer to achieving our dreams.”