"I'm a student who's had many pauses in my high school career," said Kaitlyn Broyles, a student at Butler High School and ambassador for the
Mayor's Youth Employment Program (MYEP). "And then COVID hit. I'm a visual learner, and [the difficulties of COVID] really took a toll on me. But I was able to connect with a counselor and get help," she continued. "I learned with the right motivation and the right support system, you can do anything. And I'm a living testament to that."
Kaitlyn's resilience to push forward shines through in her work ethic. Her MYEP host employer from this summer, Coca-Cola Consolidated, said, "Her morality, discipline, courage and conviction have been very aligned with the expectations we pursue. She has been able to manage her time well, execute professionalism and manage her work very well. My hope for Kaitlyn is that she will decide what her plans are next…She will excel in either route, I just want to see her go after that, as she has so much potential."
Kaitlyn is not alone with her struggles during the pandemic and learning how to refocus her goals. She is one of 19 students from the MYEP Student Ambassador Program and Generation Nation who spoke with Cindy Marten, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, on Tuesday about how the pandemic has impacted their plans for the future.
Students shared their own personal experiences, with common themes of loss and using this time of isolation to reflect on what they wanted for their futures. From connecting to a new purpose to taking a deeper dive into the career paths they wanted to explore, the world of work was at the heart of many of these conversations.
Deputy Secretary Marten also connected with large area businesses, as well as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh and several school board members, to talk through ways to redesign education and workforce systems for youth to enter rewarding careers.
One of the programs she sought to highlight is Charlotte's Mayor's Youth Employment Program (MYEP). Mayor Vi Lyles shared more about the MYEP, which provides high school students with paid work experiences that help them explore future career opportunities, build social capital and enhance economic mobility. This summer, more than 300 youth worked more than 44,000 hours and collectively earned more than $508,000. Approximately 70 host employers participated in 2022.
"Young people are helping us transform healthcare," said Clint Watson of Novant Health, illustrating why they choose to participate in the MYEP year after year. "These students approach their work with levels of engagement and enthusiasm that's incredible," he said. MYEP offers a "pipeline of recruitment solutions," he continued.
Dominique Johnson from the Duke Energy Foundation reiterated this point. "We recognize students are the future of our pipelines. We need these brains, this talent, the ability to think outside the box," she said. MYEP offers students the chance to be on the ground, exposed to these types of careers early. "You can't be who you can't see," she said.
Deputy Secretary Marten reminded students to listen to the businesses, and to take what they were saying to heart. "These employers see you for the asset you are and your contribution to the industry."
She continued, "When you get this right now, and you get these programs right, you're setting us up for future generations, future success for the city."
High school students interested in participating in the MYEP must first complete the mandatory job and career readiness training in the fall. The
job and career readiness training registration period is now open. For more information, please visit
charlottenc.gov/myep or email