Young professionals aim to share secrets of success

Speakers to emphasize importance of high school transcript, performance

September 01, 1999|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Maryland's ninth-graders will begin hearing about the importance of grades and attendance from a new source this fall: successful young business people.

"We want students to hear that what they do in high school is important if they want to have successful careers, and we want them to hear that message from people they can relate to," said June Streckfus, executive director of the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education.

The creation of a speakers bureau of young business people is scheduled to be announced todayat the annual meeting of the roundtable, a group of Maryland companies dedicated to supporting education reform and improved student achievement. The plan to send speakers into schools is part of the group's effort to make high school transcripts part of the hiring process for Maryland businesses.

"When you're young, you tend not to realize the impact that education can have, and I hope that I can go in and persuade them that their grades and attendance can make a difference in their future," said Ron Trevino, managing director of EDS Corp.'s Maryland Health Information Network and one of the new speakers.

The roundtable began its "Achievement Counts" campaign last year, and reports that a growing number of employers are asking high school students and recent graduates for their transcripts. Companies that have signed on to the program include Lockheed Martin Corp., State Farm Insurance, Procter & Gamble Co., United Parcel Service, Independent Can and Cogar Printing.

"If students are going to be asked for their transcripts when they apply for jobs, we want to be fair to them and tell them early on what's going to be expected," Streckfus said.

The group anticipated recruiting chief executive officers and other top company officials to speak to students. But focus groups with high school students showed that the students want to hear from younger people, not older executives.

"These speakers can impress on the students the importance of attendance, achievement and work ethic," said Sharon Norman, Baltimore County's director of business, parent and community relations. "The fact that these speakers are young will really help the students identify with them."

The ninth-graders will be listening to speakers such as Joe Rogers, a 36-year-old regional manager for Cisco Systems Inc.

"I'll talk to students about how if you focus on high school and work hard, the payoff you get can be really great," Rogers said. "What you do in high school matters a lot, too."

The speakers -- who will receive training on how to talk with students, and not at them -- will begin this fall with ninth-grade classes in Baltimore County, expanding into other school systems over the next two school years.

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