Indianapolis, In. — Nearly 200 high-school students from across the state competed in 10 different categories at the 11th annual Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Career Development Conference in Indianapolis on March 15.
The event was the culmination of months of regional competitions, which focused on several disciplines critical to future employment. The top students in each category from the regional competitions advanced to the state competition in Indianapolis for a chance to earn monetary awards by showcasing the employability skills they have learned through the program.
JAG is a state-based, national not-for-profit organization that assists high-school students by helping them overcome academic challenges and earn their diploma. JAG Indiana is administered by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD).
The categories in which JAG students competed challenged their critical thinking skills, entrepreneurial savvy, public speaking and writing comprehension, with 12 students vying for the top Outstanding Senior Award.
Carina Muñoz of Seymour High School took home the Outstanding Senior Honor. Caleb Duke of Sheridan High School placed second and Elaina Lenington of Jay County High School third.
“JAG is helping students to really define who they are and what they want to be,” DWD Commissioner Fred Payne said. “JAG is helping students to graduate from high school with a better sense of self, including their capability of setting and achieving career goals.”
The conference was held at the Ivy Tech Community College Culinary and Conference Center and featured former Indianapolis Colts player and Super Bowl champion Marlin Jackson as the keynote speaker for the awards program.
“Where you stand right now, engaging in the JAG program, I didn’t have that opportunity,” Jackson told the students. “So often, the things we have in our lives, we take for granted. I hope you don’t take the JAG program for granted.”
JAG Indiana has grown to be the largest affiliate in the national network, with 139 programs statewide. Governor Eric Holcomb, who serves as chairman of JAG’s National Board of Directors, has set a goal of expanding the program throughout the state. Since 2006, 20,000 students have participated in JAG Indiana with 95 percent of them graduating from high school.