When Adrien Grant stepped to the microphone to deliver his award-winning speech at the Youth Career Olympics Victory Celebration, he knew what he wanted to do; inspire his fellow competitors to take small steps that can lead to big bonuses in life.
Adrien’s path to JOG was less than conventional. Originally from the Bahamas, Adrien was a sophomore when he started at Glenville High School. He describes himself as being shy and quiet during his first year at a new school. In August of 2015, during his junior year, he started JOG (Jobs for Ohio’s Graduate’s) with Career Coach Ms. Vanessa Ackley.
“The first few days [in JOG] I remember us talking about Wizard and Lizard brain (the part of the brain that controls fear, anger, and negativity and how to combat it), and how Ms. Ackley made us feel welcome every time we stepped in the class.” From that point on, Adrien says he started down a path of growth.
JOG is an in-school, classroom-based program with a focus on career development, employability, life and leadership skills. JOG is part of Jobs for America’s Graduates, offering drop-out prevention programs in 32 states. Follow-up services are provided to participants for a full year after graduation. JOG is focused on those schools with the lowest graduation rates, including Cleveland, East Cleveland, Painesville, Maple Heights, and Euclid High Schools.
As his junior year drew to a close, Adrien set his sights on Y.O.U.’s Youth Career Olympics, where he and his partner were going to compete in the Corporate Team Challenge. After weeks of preparation with corporate sponsors and hours of studying, Adrien felt like he and his partner could win the competition. But on the day of the event, Adrien found himself alone; his partner didn’t show up.
“I was a bit disappointed, but I’m a person who can survive without a partner. So, I just went in like we were practicing and everything came to me.”
Adrien took first place in Corporate Team Challenge without the help of a partner.
This year, Adrien was selected to compete in the Public Speaking event of the Youth Career Olympics and admits that his procrastination got the best of him.
“I started writing my speech a week and a half before YCO. I got ideas from lots of people and had a full speech written out two days before the event. But, I rewrote the whole speech the night before. It felt more from the heart, and that made me remember it better. I wanted to tell my fellow students to NOT be like me- a procrastinator- but start well ahead of the due date for whatever project or task.”
For the second year in a row, Adrien once again took top honors in his event and won first place in the Public Speaking event. After receiving positive feedback from students at the Victory Celebration, he says he knew he accomplished his goal.
“That made me proud. I’m not from Cleveland, I’m from the Bahamas, and when I came to Cleveland I saw some children who weren’t doing anything with their lives and I wanted to try to change that. When the students from the audience told me that, it made me feel like I’m making a difference and hopefully I inspired others to do the same andhelp students be more productive.”
Today, Adrien has completed his JOG program, won his events two years in a row at the Youth Career Olympics, and graduated from Glenville High School, but he’s not done yet. Next year, Adrien will attend Mercyhurst University on a full scholarship and study Information Technology so he can become a Computer/Software Engineer.
“I am looking forward to continuing to be a role model for those after me and making my family and friends, my school, Cleveland, the Bahamas and Y.O.U proud.”
Congratulations, Adrien. You’re an exemplary student and role model, and we’re incredibly proud of you.
You can watch Adrien’s speech here.