A star-studded cast of professionals will share their stories, advice and inspiration with Summit Academy students during the inaugural Summit Academy Schools’ Movin’ On Up: Career Readiness Week, March 15-19. The virtual event was designed to link Summit Academy students in grades 6-12 with representatives from various vocations and colleges that interest them.
“Our Career Readiness Week seeks to give students across the state exposure to colleges and professions they may not otherwise explore,” says Executive Director of Special Education Erica L. Richley-Duda, MSEd, LPCC-S.
About 30 professionals will serve as speakers for the event. Presenters represent such fields as law, engineering, hospitality, nursing, filmmaking, welding, professional athletics, cosmetology, journalism, graphic design and much in between. Members of various military branches will also present to students as well as college representatives from Ohio Dominican, Columbus State, Mount Union, Eastern Gateway, Owens Community College and Sinclair Community College.
Event speaker Jimmy Cross, a senior admission counselor for The University of Mount Union, advises students who have their sights set on higher education to find a college that feels like home.
“Visit as many times as you need to until you find that exact place,” he recommends, adding that every college will provide opportunities for not only academic, but personal growth.
Executive Chef Claudia Diaz, C.C. says she looks forward to speaking with Summit Academy students and “empowering the next generation of future professionals.”
Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Diaz says her journey to become a professional chef started when she was child, enthralled with television cooking shows. Her interest led her to enroll in her middle school’s home economics culinary program. From there, her career path continued to take shape.
A graduate of The University of Akron’s Hospitality and Restaurant Management Program, Diaz manages the Corporate Café inside Joann Fabrics and Stores support center headquarters in Hudson, Ohio. She is an American Culinary Federation (ACF) bronze medalist and obtained her Certification as a Chef from the ACF in 2017. She was recently named chairwoman of the Chef to Child Program for the ACF Cleveland Chapter.
Diaz says that through the Summit Academy Career Readiness Week, she hopes to inspire students to pursue their passions, adding that it is never too early and never too late to do so.
“I hope to help them realize that if you love what you do and you do what you love, your life has a sense of purpose and fulfillment that money alone cannot bring,” she says. Diaz points out that failure is part of the process. “Failure is an event, not a person, and failing is not fatal unless you quit. Success doesn’t teach you much, but failure is the best teacher.”
Tyeal Howell, a digital marketing strategist specializing in cross-channel digital media planning, has worked with such brands and businesses as Create & Cultivate, WorkParty, xoNecole.com, Toyota, Glade, Jessica Simpson, Blavity and others in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and Ohio. An independent consultant and founder of her creative marketing studio, Made in Tyeal, Howell took what she calls a leap of faith after graduating from The University of Akron with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Media Production. The Springfield, Ohio native moved to Los Angeles to launch her career.
“I am excited to share a spirit of ambition and fearlessness with the students during Career Readiness Week and encourage them to chase their dreams with strategy and to tap into their network along the way,” she says.
Other presenters sure to inspire Summit Academy students include Troy Pascley, Program Administrator at The Village Network. Pascley played Division 1 football for The University of Louisville and had NFL experience with the San Francisco 49’ers, NY Jets and NY Giants.
Toledo native Catherine Stockslager, a Cook County, Illinois public defender, will also serve as a presenter as will Ross Williams, hairstylist for film and television stars. The list goes on.
“We have an incredibly impressive lineup of presenters,” Richley-Duda says. “This will most certainly be a memorable and impactful event for our students.”