February 2015

Author Kelly Thomas is a Career Specialist with the CYC Career Preparation program, Jobs for Cincinnati Graduates (JCG). She teaches at Oyler High School.

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Kelly Thomas assisting an Oyler High School student.

My students inspire me on a daily basis. Through my years at Oyler High School, I have seen a multitude of students who are extremely motivated about their futures, despite their circumstances. I am excited to go to my job every day because of these students.

This year, there is one particular student who stands out as an absolute success story, and his year isn’t even finished. I expect B’s* future to be bright and full of possibilities. It wasn’t until he was composing his essay for admission to the University of Cincinnati that I completely understood the unique chain of events he has experienced.

The same day that his father died, B learned that he was going to become a father himself. In his essay, B wrote about the catharsis that day created in his life. He grew up in one day. B’s child motivates him to push through difficult times and move forward, and to use his intelligence to better his life.

As his teacher, I am always struck by how clearly B sees reality. At the beginning of the year, students were asked to do an “About Me” presentation so that we could all learn a little more about one another. B brought in a lyric from the rapper Nas, which referenced being “in the margins.” B held his peers with rapt attention and spoke to the fact that, just coming from Oyler and from poverty, there will be people who will attempt to marginalize him and his peers. He addressed the fact that he would not be marginalized—his future is in his own hands. It was a brilliant analysis of the song, and a powerful message to his peers.

B is one of my “Lunch Bunch” students. These students come to the JCG classroom during lunch for additional guidance. B attends frequently so that we can brainstorm problems that come up in his life. He also shares my love of music, and sometimes we just talk about that. I truly believe that JCG has played a significant role in B’s life. It has helped him to set goals, problem solve, and to build confidence and strong communication skills. He is one of our two Communication Officers, and in this role he shows enthusiasm and a commitment to helping others in the Lower Price Hill community through our service learning projects. 

B is a success. He has already come through so much, I don’t think anything will stop him. I am happy to say he has been accepted into the University of Cincinnati’s engineering program. B, and so many other students like him, are my inspiration, and the reason that I take so much pride in my work as a career specialist.

*student’s full name omitted for privacy

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