[VIA] – For the past decade, the Valley Industry Association’s Connecting2Success program has prepared Santa Clarita Valley high school students for the working world. The response has always been positive, and this year VIA saw a new level of feedback.
This fall, two former students who went through the program in 2005 have returned to serve as program facilitators. Facilitators administer the program curriculum and also share their personal experiences.
Both Hannah Allard and Alexandra Norris went through the program as high school students in 2005. VIA CEO and President Kathy Norris said this is the first time former students have approached VIA about being facilitators.
“I really appreciate it because it tells us we’re doing something important for students,” Norris said. “I would like for this to become a regular occurrence.”
Every facilitator administers the same curriculum, which is revised every two years. What varies is how they decide to deliver it to the students. Norris said facilitators will often share personal experiences with students, whether positive choices they made in the past or negative ones and the lessons they learned as a result.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for high school students to get a peek into the business world,” Allard said. “It made me aware of what to do in the future.”
She said one benefit of Connecting2Success was learning about professionalism and preparing for the interview process. The program also provides an excellent opportunity for students to network with members of the Santa Clarita Valley business community, she said.
A graduate of Valencia High School, Allard graduated from California State University, Northridge, in May 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. In addition to acting as a Connecting2Success facilitator, she is pursuing a master’s degree in speech and language therapy from CSUN and is a special education paraeducator for the Saugus Union School District.
Having volunteered with the program over the past two years, Alexandra Norris said it is exciting to have the opportunity to serve as a facilitator. As younger facilitators – and fairly recent program attendees – Norris said she believes she and Allard will bring a fresh perspective to the table.
“It reinforces that the program actually does work,” she said. “It tells (students) that we believe in the program.”
Norris graduated from CSUN last May with a bachelor of sciences in environmental and occupational health.
To prepare students for the working world, Connecting2Success is organized in a business conference format. More than 100 volunteer mentors from the business community lead students through role playing, case studies, group discussions and individual assessments to build workplace professionalism and the ability to influence others as responsible adults.
Beginning with a few hundred students from Valencia High School, Connecting2Success has grown into a program that in 2011 drew 2,000 students from William S. Hart, Golden Valley, Saugus, Valencia, Bowman and West Ranch high schools. This year, Canyon High School has been added to the program.
The Valley Industry Association of Santa Clarita represents business interests throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, providing members the opportunity to network and collaborate on a broad range of business issues. For more information about VIA or the Connecting2Success program, visit www.via.org.