Do you remember the rush of excitement when you flew on an airplane for the first time and that plane ride took you farther from home than you have ever been? Kayla Wittkop, a Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) youth from Northwestern Michigan College and Youth Advisory Council (YAC) member, never had that opportunity before joining our Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) program. Kayla was one of eight youth selected from the state of Michigan to attend the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) National Student Leadership Academy (NSLA) in Washington D.C. in December. NSLA is a capstone leadership event that provides youth leaders unique experiences through experiential learning, real-world applicability, and networking.
Looking back at all that she’s accomplished to become one of the eight youth selected, Kayla credits a lot of her success to the JMG program and her JMG Specialist, Lisa Baldyga. Before entering the JMG program, Kayla lacked confidence and struggled with mild social anxiety. Being a part of the JMG program exposed her to new opportunities and allowed her to step outside of her comfort zone.
“JMG has had a big impact on my life. I have done more things in JMG than any other program I've been a part of. Lisa, my JMG Specialist, has helped me by giving me opportunities to try new things like going to Legislative Days and the NSLA. Attending the NSLA impacted me in many ways. I flew for the first time going there, I went to three different places that I have never been before and saw so many cool things in Washington D.C. Going to the NSLA helped me prepare for my future because it taught us how to be better leaders and gave us an opportunity to network with people from all over the country and make new friends along the way.”
Using the leadership skills she’s learned from JMG, Kayla looks forward to continuing her career path to becoming a social worker. We look forward to watching her shine and can’t wait to see everything she accomplishes throughout 2023 and beyond.