DECA Discovers the #ATTImpact in Mississippi

DECA continued its #DECAATTProject initiative on Tuesday, December 9, by traveling to Jackson, Miss., to facilitate a field trip for Hinds County Career & Technical Center DECA members to the AT&T building in downtown Jackson.

AT&T is working with DECA as part of its Aspire Mentoring Academy (AMA), an AT&T funded project aimed at improving high school graduation rates and preparing high school students for college and careers. This year, the AT&T Aspire Mentoring Academy is working with DECA chapters in 12 national markets across the United States.

When the DECA members from Hinds County Career & Technical Center arrived at the AT&T building in the morning, they were given a warm welcome by Mayo Flynt, the President of AT&T Mississippi. Mr. Flynt shared his educational background, his professional career and some pieces of advice for the members in attendance.

Mr. Flynt encouraged the students to find a career they are passionate about and enjoy doing because, “You’re going to be waking up and going to that job everyday.” However, he also said advised the group that sometimes you have to be flexible with your career aspirations, and if your first goal isn’t working out, it’s ok to change your mind and pursue a different dream.

Mr. Flynt’s insight and wisdom provided the perfect start to this exciting day and DECA is so honored to have him as part of the #DECAATTProject.

Next, the students went to the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) where they were treated to an engaging presentation from the Executive Vice President of the Jackson CVB, Rickey Thigpin, and Public Relations Manager, Yolanda Clay-Moore.

Mr. Thigpin and Ms. Clay-Moore shared with the students some of the day-to-day operations that happen at the CVB office, like fielding questions about the city for television productions, as well as some of the challenges they face, like educating taxi cab drivers on their impact on tourism in the city.

Students left the presentation with a new understanding and appreciation for the marketing and public relations efforts related to the city of Jackson, and discovered new career fields in their areas of interest.

Up next, students were treated to a professional luncheon at The Capital Club in downtown Jackson, where they participated in a mentoring lunch as they learned from the AT&T employees in attendance.

DECA was also able to capture testimonials on film from various DECA members, AT&T professionals and Hinds County employees for its video project showcasing AT&T’s impact on DECA members throughout this initiative.

Delesicia Martin, the Hinds County School District Superintendent, commented on the unique needs of the students in her district. “In some cases, because our area is so rural, students have to go to other communities to attend high school and college,” Delesicia said. “It is so important for them then to get a solid foundation in career and technical education, so when they go to college they have the transferable skills they need to be successful in any area.”

Patricia Ashmore, the Career & Technical Center Director for Hinds County, echoed Delesicia’s point on the impact of AT&T’s presence in their rural school district.

“Using Nepris [a video conference platform supported by AT&T to connect business professionals with classrooms] in the classroom is an opportunity [the students] wouldn’t have had in their other classrooms,” Patricia said. “Nepris has allowed our students the opportunity to interact with people all over the state and country.”

Patricia also commented on the impact AT&T is making on their students by investing in their futures.

“It is so awesome that we were picked by DECA and AT&T; we were so surprised and honored. AT&T is such a large company and this is such a wonderful opportunity to show how AT&T is committed to education and helping students prepare for their futures.”

Jordan Curry, a second-year DECA member and the chapter president of Hinds County Career & Technical Center DECA, believes his experience with AT&T is not only helping him, but also helping his community.

“I want to stay in Jackson and help my community, so by interacting with AT&T and learning these core skills, I can then use this knowledge to help my own area in the future.”

Elizabeth Keyes, who is a junior at Raymond High School and a first-year DECA member at Hinds County Career & Technical Center, is determined to use her AT&T Aspire Mentoring Academy experience to one day own her own business.

“I like listening to people, so when [AT&T mentors] share their experiences with me, I can then make better choices in my own life by learning from my mentors. By AT&T allowing me to meet people who have such great advice to share, it encourages me to believe that anything is possible.”

Elizabeth also enjoys meeting more professional females in the business industry.

“The media doesn’t always show women in business who have accomplished so much, so it’s wonderful to meet so many successful women in AT&T,” Elizabeth said.

Felicia Burse, a fundamental network planner for AT&T and an AT&T Aspire Mentoring Academy Ambassador, capped off the day’s events and experience with a simple sentiment: “Most of these students haven’t been to an office building or eaten at a dinner club. If you don’t know something exists, you can’t dream it up. This experience [and the AT&T Aspire Mentoring Academy] gives these students dreams and aspirations and by exposing them to things they didn’t know existed.”

Today was an incredible experience for all the Hinds County Career & Technical Center DECA members and surely introduced them to a variety of new careers and possibilities for their futures.

DECA thanks AT&T, the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau and Hinds Community College for their efforts in making today’s events such a success.

Follow AT&T on Twitter @ATT, @ConnecttoGood and #ATTImpact, and follow DECA @DECAInc., and this initiative with #DECAATTProject.

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