Emerging Leader Rusheda N. Robinson, of Burr & Burton Academy, discusses her portfolio. (Derek Carson)
Emerging Leader Rusheda N. Robinson, of Burr & Burton Academy, discusses her portfolio. (Derek Carson)

BENNINGTON -- Students who participated in this year's Emerging Leaders program invited friends, family, and teachers to the Community College of Vermont on Monday to celebrate their accomplishments.

The program includes sophomores and juniors from Mount Anthony Union High School, the Career Development Center, and Burr and Burton Academy, who were recommended by their teachers or guidance counselors for their potential leadership abilities. "Bringing two schools together, MAU and BBA, to collaborate on a project like this, it's really the first of its kind," said MAUHS Community School Coordinator Amy Beth Kessinger, who has acted as MAU's liaison with the project.

At Monday's celebration, students presented portfolios they created during the project, which included resumes, professional references, high school transcripts, and results from the ACT WorkKeys Assessment. The students' invited guests began by speaking with the student they came with, but every five minutes or so Kessinger would ring a bell and ask the groups to shift, which gave the students the opportunity to speak with as many adults as possible.

During the project, students met with local business owners and workers on several occassions, to learn more about their varied careers. This summer, each participant will take part in a 40 hour internship with a local business of their choice over the summer.


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The largest distance between those internships, said Kessinger, is 60 miles, with one student working in Pownal and another working in Westchester.

"A career is not a linear thing," Kessinger said the the assembled students, "What you become, who you become, is a culmination of many different life choices."

Kessinger and CCV coordinator of academic services Jeanne Jenkins encouraged students to participate in CCV's dual-enrollment program, which allows high school students to take free college classes while in high school, which would be worth both high school and college credit. "We absolutely want every one of your children to take advantage of the two free college courses coming their way," said Kessinger.

Jenkins spoke very highly of the students she worked with during the program. 21 of the 24, she said, have earned the Governor's Career Ready Certificate through the CCV, and the other three are still completing the coursework. Everyone in the program also took CCV's free Intro to College Studies course, which prepares high school students and adults alike for the college experience. "I'm really impressed," she said, "that all of them were willing to take the step forward."

Jenkins said that next year's program will welcome a whole new group of students, but that many students who participated this year have asked about coming back as mentors next year. "The hope is that this isn't the end for them with us," said Jenkins.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB