This is my second year working with Work Learn Grow, and this year’s experience is just as good as last year’s. Although it does not feel the same due to the pandemic, this program has allowed a sense of familiarity to come into my life. I am familiar with how the program works, and this helps bring me an ease in light of all the uncertainty the country is facing right now. Last year, I was used to attending my CUNY course every Thursday from 3-5:30 pm in Ms. Connors’ room. There I learned about college readiness as well as growing into the person I want to become. The assignments were fair as well as manageable. After passing the CUNY course with flying colors, I was given the privilege to intern at the NYC Department of Buildings. For someone who is an aspiring architect like myself, this was the opportunity of a lifetime. Had I not been a participant with Work Learn Grow, that opportunity would have never arisen for me.
This year is the same format but with a different look. Everything, and I mean everything, is one hundred percent virtual. I can now say that I’ve experienced an online College Course as my CUNY class was taught via Google Meet. I would’ve loved for this to be in person as there were a lot of people from other schools whom I did not know but seemed to be truly phenomenal people. Once again, partly thanks to my CUNY instructor’s consideration to my other tasks outside of Work Learn Grow, I passed the CUNY course with flying colors. This then allowed me to get my credits as well as another internship, this time at my school. Yesterday, December 21st, was my first official day. Despite knowing the experience would be better in person, the virtual internship is still as effective as any other in person internship. Between the free CUNY class, the internship, and both of them paying students, there is no reason why anyone should not join this phenomenal program. What better way to get your education, work experience for your aspiring career, and a pretty decent paycheck every two weeks.
What follows are interviews with my professor, Mr. Randy Kaminsky, and Ms. Dequasha Davis, who coordinates the WLG program for WHSAD.
Q: How did you get involved with this program?
A: I have been teaching college now for about eight years now and this year they asked me to teach this class in addition to the cn criminal justice and constitutional law classes I teach.
Q: How many years of teaching experience do you have?
A: I have been teaching for twenty years now.
Q: Where and what have you taught in the past?
A: I have taught at fort hamilton high school for twenty years and the cuny for eight years.
Q: What is your favorite aspect about this program?
A: I like helping students prepare for college and their lives after college. I think it is important that high schools prepare the students for college and life after college.
Q: What do you want your students to get the most out of?
A: I want the students to be able to evaluate their skills going into college so they can be as prepared as possible
Q: What do you hope to learn by teaching in this program?
A: I hope to learn more about what students want to learn about for college and beyond. The more I know about what the students need the better I can prepare them.
Dequasha Davis, School-Based Assistant Director, St. Nick’s Alliance
Q: How did you get involved with the program?
A: I was recommended by my former supervisor from another similar program
Q: What made you want to get involved?
A: I have a passion for working with the youth. I remember it being very difficult to get information about colleges, internships, workforce training etc. while i was i high school and a few years after.
Q: For those that may not know, what is your role in this program?
A: I am the Assistant Director of the School Based Youth Employment Program
Q: With your role in this program, what do you hope to accomplish?
A: My goal is to have brought enough information, trainings/workshops, and workforce exposure to ensure each participant was able to take at least one positive attribute and use it in their everyday life
Q: Out of all the amazing things this program has to offer its participants, what is your favorite?
A: Seeing all the students excited about working; and most importantly seeing how hard they are willing to work to achieve their stipends
Q: What would you personally add to the program to make it even better?
A: More training to allow myself and my staff to gain more knowledge. That way we can pass it along to the youth
Q: For those who haven’t participated in this program, what would you like for them to know?
A: That WLG & SYEP are great opportunities to begin your character. These two programs allows you to at a personality to your resume (give the employer a brief picture to paint if you until they meet you)
Two others Work Learn Grow students provide their thoughts regarding the program.
Imagine taking college courses in high school. Great, right? Now imagine getting paid to take these college courses where not only do you get paid, you get credits that can be applicable to all CUNY schools and certain colleges. That is exactly what many students at WHSAD are experiencing when taking part in DYCD’s Work Learn Grow program. The CUNY system is well remarked by many and is at a national level of recognition for being the largest urban university system in the United States, comprising 25 campuses: eleven senior colleges, seven community colleges, one undergraduate honors college, and seven post-graduate institutions.
Aside from the fact that we get paid to take a CUNY course, the other perks are endless. We get to participate in activities where we really get a sense of adulthood and aside from that there are internships where students can make at least $3000 over a period of time. CUNY courses are a great thing for students to have because it will definitely look amazing on a college application. The biggest motivation about the CUNY course is that if students get lazy and decide to slack off there is a penalty that can hurt your academic future. If students aren’t willing to do their assignments you can be denied financial aid due to the fact that you’ll be seen as an academic liability. What this means is that any grade below a C minus means that if you decide to go to CUNY school you would have to pay out-of-pocket. For many students, financial aid is a great means of assistance because not many can afford to pay for school out-of-pocket. Altogether, while this opportunity is a great way for many potential pathways in your future.
-Savie Currency, Senior
In the first semester of my junior year, I applied for this program called Work Learn Grow. The Work Learn Grow program is funded by different sponsors in the New York City area. The program runs from October to March. This program’s main idea is to send teenagers into the world with real-life work experience. There are two separate parts. The first part is taking a CUNY class in which you can earn two college credits and a college and career exploration, which basically makes you dive deeper into your different pathways and careers you are interested in.
In the short time I’ve been enrolled, I have learned so much about the world and the college experience as a whole. My CUNY class, which I just wrapped up on December 15th, focused on how college life as a whole will be a life-altering experience. I learned much about how powerful and responsible being a legal adult will be for me and anyone who is coming at that age. In my career exploration class, I learned about how many different interests I had, which honestly I never thought I would have.
-Megan Golding, Junior