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Meet Specialist Cortney Sanders

Cortney has been a JMG specialist with UP Michigan Works for 3.5 years. She works with out-of-school youth to re-engage them in their education and give them the confidence and skills they need to succeed and achieve their goals. We asked Cortney several questions to get to know her better.

Why did you become a JMG Specialist?

Youth are my passion and being able to help them reach their goals and become successful provides me with purpose. For me, being a JMG Specialist is hands down the most rewarding "job" I have ever done.

What inspires you about your job?

Knowing what my youth are going through and seeing them continue to show up determined to overcome barriers and be successful in education and employment inspires me daily.

Recall a favorite memory as a specialist.

Summer Summit (Youth Solutions Professional Development Conference) 2019 was the most influential event I have been a part of in JMG. Having so many people in one room that are so passionate about the success of our youth was exhilarating. As a newer specialist, it showed me that I was meant to be in this role. I realized that day that I was part of something bigger. It gave me the motivation to help grow our UP Out Of School program into something that people want to be a part of.

Leadership Day 2021 was an amazing experience for three of my youth who were hesitant to attend. Not only did they learn how to work as a team, but they overcame so many fears. Anna, specifically, who does not do well in social situations or with heights, not only took the lead in team building, but she also zip-lined and did the catwalk and pole climb. Being part of JMG has shown her that, with a little encouragement from her peers, she is capable of doing things she never imagined.

What is one of the greatest challenges you face in your job?

Being in the UP, transportation is one of the greatest challenges I face with my students.

What is one of the greatest joys/highlights of your job?

Building relationships with my youth and seeing them realize that they are capable of reaching their goals is one of the greatest joys of my job.

Why do you think JMG is so important for youth?

JMG provides so many opportunities for our youth. It gives them the tools and resources they need to be successful in life.

Share a couple of random facts to get to know you better.

I married my husband, Tyler, in August of 2021. Together, we bought a new home in Gladstone where we live with our girls, Paige and Makenzie. We have a 3-year-old German Shepard named Jaeger and two cats named Roger and Izzy.


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