Meet our Specialist of the Month winner for July, Kim Benz, a JMG Specialist at Wexford-Missaukee CTC and Cadillac Innovation High School. Kim has been a Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG) specialist for two and a half years and has made a big difference in the lives of the youth she serves. We asked several questions so you can get to know her better…
Why did you become a JMG Specialist?
For three decades, I dedicated myself to the healthcare industry, focusing on community outreach and conducting community health needs assessments. Our county data shows several areas for improvement, including graduation rates, poverty levels, and access to healthcare. I felt I could positively impact the lives of our students by empowering them to recognize their full potential, which, in turn, would benefit our community.
What inspires you about your job?
As a JMG Specialist, I am inspired by the opportunity to help students discover their strengths, achieve their goals and support them as they navigate through their high school years and beyond.
Recall a favorite memory about being a specialist. (an event, a youth accomplishment, etc.)
Leadership Day is my favorite event. I enjoy seeing our students participate in the team building activities and gaining confidence in their social skills. Plus, I like spending time with my JMG team and getting to catch up with them in person.
What is one of the greatest challenges you face in your job?
Poverty, so many of our students struggle with being able to afford the basic necessities. Students also do not have the means to pay for driver's education which is a barrier to employment and we struggle with this on a daily basis.
What is one of the greatest highlights/joys of your job?
I enjoy seeing the change in the students over the years as they gain more confidence and begin to think about their future. I enjoy talking with them and hearing their stories.
Why do you think JMG is so important for youth?
JMG allows students that may not be involved in other extra curricular activities to feel a sense of belonging. It helps them come together, make new friends and become involved in their community.
Share your hobbies, do you have any pets, what do you like to do in your spare time, etc.
My husband and I enjoy attending auctions. I like gardening, reading, camping and kayaking. I love the Gulf of Mexico, when I retire I would like to spend the winter months there.
A couple random facts to get to know you better.
I've been married for 43 years to my husband, Charlie. I have two children, Michaela 30 and Jacob 24. I have a cat, however, once she is gone I may consider getting a dog. I'm not sure though as I want new carpeting in my house, we will see.
Fun fact: My favorite season is fall, and my favorite holiday is Christmas. I want to learn to play pickleball and I like to iron!
Nominations are open to ALL, including our employer partners! If you know a phenomenal specialist, we encourage you to nominate them as our August Specialist of the Month.
Nominate a specialist who deserves to be recognized, here.