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County Officials Honor Prince George's County Youth CareerConnect Program's 1st Graduating Class

(l. to r.: Lateefah Durant, Academic Officer, PGCPS; Alan Marroquin, Job Coach, LAYC; Yolanda Tully, YCC Program Director; County Executive Rushern Baker; Dr. Robbin Fiddermon, Bladensburg YCC Coordinator; Aisha Mahoney, Principal, Bladensburg High School; Felicia Colbert, Assistant Principal, Bladensburg High School; Jim Coleman, President & CEO, PGCEDC; Betty Hager Francis, DCAO for Health and Education; Crystal Williams, Bladensburg College Coach, PGCC; YCC Graduates from Bladensburg High School)Largo, MD, May 12, 2016 - Yesterday, County Executive Rushern Baker and Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President and CEO Jim Coleman joined officials from the Prince George's County Public Schools and Prince George's County Youth CareerConnect Program (YCC) business partners in honoring the first graduating class of the YCC at the Prince George's Community College.  The Youth CareerConnect Program is a part of President Obama's STEM initiative geared toward providing employers with a skilled workforce in healthcare and information technology immediately following high school.  Parents, friends and local officials came out to the Senior Celebration to highlight the accomplishments of the 44 seniors who participated in the YCC at Bladensburg and Fairmont Heights High Schools.

"What a great time to graduate!  The YCC experience that these honor roll students have received is truly a game changer in their lives," said Coleman.  "The country is looking for dynamic young people like these in the fields of healthcare and information technology.  Those are some of the top industry sectors the County is targeting to create the workforce of the future. They are the 'best of the best' and are going into important industries that will give them a unique opportunity to alter their lives for generations to come.  Having a hand up in these high-demand, high wage careers is exactly how we will keep Prince George's County moving forward. We are excited about this next generation of multi-millionaires coming out of Prince George's County Public Schools.  Our future is in good hands." 

County Executive Baker also encouraged the graduates to travel as far as their imaginations could take them, and told them that they are an essential part of the Prince George's County workforce pipeline.

"President Obama announced the YCC grant at Bladensburg High School right after our Administration launched its Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative which addresses critical needs in areas of the County that were sometimes overlooked. The timing was perfect for the Administration and this program to get more involved in education," said County Executive Baker.  "I congratulate the seniors as they move along in their careers.  We are proud of the hard work of the students and proud of the partners who have invested in this program and in Prince George's County.  This is one of many steps we are taking to move Prince George's County forward."

The EDC manages the $7 million grant the County received for this program and is pleased to be working with our business partners, Lockheed Martin and Dimensions Healthcare Systems.  The EDC also partners with the Prince George's County Public School System, Ashlin Urban Institute, Hillside Work Scholarship Connection, Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), Prince George's County Community College and The Maryland Center at Bowie State University. 

"Tonight we were able to celebrate some of our rising stars that have graduated from the Prince George's County Youth CareerConnect Program. All of them are going to college or serving in the military, and we couldn't be more proud of them," said Yolanda Tully, EDC Youth CareerConnect Program Director.  "Throughout their high school career, the students have been learning and building on their skills in the health and IT field. Some have extensive certifications in nursing and IT; skills that are competitive and in demand in today's workforce. These are the future leaders that will take Prince George's County by storm."

This year marks the second school year of the YCC; a four-year STEM program for Prince George's County Public School high school Career Academy Pathways.  The three schools participating in the program are Bladensburg, Potomac and Fairmont Heights. The program focuses on health, bio-science and information technology and has over 440 students enrolled to date.  Each of the graduating seniors, a majority of whom are honors students, have been accepted by the top colleges in the country, including the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, George Washington University and Howard University.

"I was undecided about my career path and couldn't decide whether I should go into engineering, computer science or be a medical doctor," said Gabriel Aboragadi, from Bladensburg High School and attending the University of Maryland with a full Gates Foundation Scholarship. "Because of the YCC program, I was able to have internships and explore all types of medical and IT fields.  This helped me decide to go into the medical field and eventually pursue my Ph.D."

Companies interested in partnering with the Prince George's County Youth CareerConnect Program for summer job opportunities, internships or mentoring contact Yolanda Tully, YCC Program Director at 301-618-8400 or yttully@co.pg.md.us.