One year after the death of our dear friend and coworker, Jessica Brown, we followed up with the student who benefited from the scholarship created in her memory: the Jessica Brown Memorial Scholarship.
This scholarship is given to the Marion County Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) student who mirrors Jessica’s passion for community service, strong work ethic, and genuine interest in the lives of his/her peers, regularly displaying random acts of kindness.
Tyrah Matherly (middle) with EmployIndy Youth Services staff Erika Cheney (left) and Beth Bowling (right)
In 2018, the first winner of the Jessica Brown Memorial Scholarship was Tyrah Matherly, who at the time was a senior at Decatur Central High School. When Tyrah started JAG, she did not want to attend college – she had never been passionate about school. However, the JAG program changed that. Tyrah experienced a shocking realization that her career options were extremely limited if she decided not to pursue further education. Once that information sunk in, things began to quickly change.
Through the help of her JAG specialist, Molly Hanson, she was able to get a job. “Ms. Hanson helped me create my resume, search for jobs, use the school computer to apply, and create a schedule to balance school and work,” said Tyrah. This process and the knowledge of her career options are what pushed Tyrah to apply for IUPUI to pursue a career as a dental hygienist. During her first semester, she used some of the funds from her scholarship to purchase the books she needed for her classes.
When the fall semester ended, Tyrah made the decision of transferring her credits to Purdue Global for two reasons: First, it gave her the flexibility to work a full-time job without the time constraints of an in-person course. Second, she decided to pursue a psychology degree with a focus on assisting people battling addiction.
With these online courses, Tyrah used the remainder of her scholarship money to purchase a new computer so she could continue her studies while working full-time in the OneAmerica contact center where she is developing job skills in a fast-paced setting with limited downtime.
As Tyrah pays her way through school, she is dreaming of ways to improve the lives of people struggling with substance abuse. “My life has always been centered around community service, especially when it comes to helping people and animals. I want to find a career where I can pair a person in addiction recovery with a rescue animal for support – a way of saving two lives at once,” she said.
The Jobs for America’s Graduates program gave Tyrah the boost to believe in herself and push herself to excel by utilizing time management skills and informing her of opportunities available through higher education. The Jessica Brown Memorial Scholarship was able to provide funding to help Tyrah reach her goals and continue to further her education.
If you would like to be part of changing other students lives, consider donating to the Jessica Brown Memorial Scholarship. These funds remove barriers for JAG students who may not have otherwise pursued a postsecondary education. Support for EmployIndy and its programs goes toward encouraging the future workforce to build a better future for themselves and their community.
Goodwill’s Indianapolis Metropolitan High School recently selected Daesha Cottrell as their outstanding student for 2019. Daesha is a participant in EmployIndy’s Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program, which is helping to prepare her for success after high school. Learn more about her story and the impact of JAG in the video below.
Some job seekers assume employers are exclusively seeking individuals with a specific skill set, such as mowing, mulching, or irrigation for a professional landscaping company. However, more skills applicable to any job are defined by character, communication and attitude. Melissa Harris, BrightView Landscape Vice President and General Manager, highlights that their organization “looks for character first. We ask a lot of situational-type questions rather than landscape or horticultural. We want our employees to demonstrate good character and positive decision-making skills in the past.”
DaShawn Mitchellis a BrightView recent hire from Fathers and Families, an Indianapolis community-based organization focusing on helping get men into employment or education. While he was at Fathers and Families, DaShawn took Job Ready Indy courses where he was taught workplace and social skills, self-management, and learning strategies for success.
Job Ready Indy is an EmployIndy employability skills program that was developed in partnership with and vetted by the Indy Chamber and the City of Indianapolis. This program was established to assist young job seekers in becoming valuable employees and to provide employers with high-quality individuals who have completed over thirty hours of employability skills courses.
Alex Vetter, a Regional Market Recruiter at BrightView Landscape, mentions that DaShawn was one of the best candidates that he had interviewed since starting at BrightView. “He wants to do a great job, learn skills, and grow in the organization. His attitude was exactly what we were looking for.” Job Ready Indy prepares participants for the workforce by arming them with the skills they need to excel on the job – meeting immediate employer needs by cultivating applicants who have learned the importance of actions like dressing appropriately, being timely, valuing their position, and demonstrating positive character and genuine respect for themselves and others.
EmployIndy’s mission is to bridge the ever-growing skills gap in Indianapolis. It is no secret that employers are struggling with retention and that many job seekers struggle to meet employer needs because of their lack of soft skills displayed on the job. In addition to job ready participants, EmployIndy also utilizes a Referral Portal where individuals who have received services from community organizations are vetted to ensure they have the employability skills needed to succeed in a workplace setting.
“Having a high school diploma is always a plus,” says Alex. “But someone with a great attitude and looking to grow within the organization can be trained on the job and gain skills that can be used to benefit us in the future.”
Job Ready Indy works for both the supply and demand side of the workforce by preparing job seekers for work while also providing employers with eager candidates who have the skills to succeed – ultimately building and strengthening the workforce in Indianapolis and encouraging inclusive economic growth in the city.