Hall County students are taking the wheel and paving the road to a successful future with the help of a new program.
Lanier Charter Career Academy has fueled up a new initiative: DRIVE — Developing Resources and InValuable Experiences — and students are taking advantage of it.
Rosita Aranad, a senior at Lanier Charter Career Academy, will wrap up her high school diploma in December and aspires to a career in the nursing industry.
But, she said, without the help of the academy and the newly established DRIVE program, she would not have the confidence to make it a reality.
“I’m not really a social person and this has given me confidence,” Aranad said. “Maybe if I hadn’t taken this program, maybe when I apply for a job, I would not have the same confidence that I have right now.”
Aranad dropped out of East Hall High School in 2008 when she was a sophomore. She needed to help out with family finances and take care of her newborn.
But last year she decided to go back to school.
“So I dropped out and then decided to come back because I wanted a better life,” she said. “I don’t want to work in a plant my entire life. I want to set an example for my children.
“This is a chance for me to go out there and apply and have a better chance to be hired. Right now, to be hired is very, very, very difficult. They want education, so this is a chance for me.”
She wants to get a certificate from Lanier Technical College to work in the front office of a medical building and eventually get her nursing degree.
The DRIVE program aims to give students the tools and skills necessary to succeed at the next level, whether it’s the work force or post-secondary education.
Through a curriculum combining academic and career-focused learning, students obtain soft skills in the classroom while honing them in a work environment, depending on what interests or goals they may have.
“It’s very personal,” said Rachael McClain, workforce development coordinator at LCCA. “Every student has a different story and because we’re a small-school environment, we wanted to capitalize on that. So every student is creating a ‘road map’ and every student has career, personality and leadership assessments.”
Jerry Mesidor came to the academy by way of Johnson High School. He wanted to graduate earlier than he would have in a traditional setting and likes the fact he’s getting real-world experience while under a school’s roof.
Mesidor, through the DRIVE program, is working at the campus’ coffee shop in the morning and the store in the afternoon.
“It’s just showing me how I can be prepared for the future,” he said.
He’s on track to graduate next winter and hopes to make a career as a music producer.
“We’re trying to find the spot where their skill level and their passion intersect,” said McClain.
The program is mandatory for students in the Workforce Development Academy on campus, but is also open to those who are getting their GED or enrolled full time at the school.
And, students said, it has opened up numerous doors.
“I was thinking college was not an option for me. I thought I was going to be stuck in the same place for the rest of my life,” said Aranad. “I didn’t feel confident going to college, but I do now because I want a better future.”