YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – For the first time, the City Club of the Mahoning Valley’s Views and Brews panel was made up of all high school students.
Five students from Chaney High School and Choffin Career and Technical Center sat on the panel Monday, discussing a series of topics.
“Of course, you can ask, ‘What do you wanna be when you get older?’ But it’s important to ask, ‘Ok, how are you gonna become that?’” Nakaia McRae said.
McRae is a senior at Chaney. She said the focus Monday was to get feedback from the perspective of students.
Some of the topics the students touched on were how to move closer to academic goals, workforce opportunities in the area, helpful resources and career paths.
The discussion was a part of an ongoing assessment program called Brain Gain.
Brain Gain launched in October and was created by the Business Journal as a way of addressing what they call “brain drain” — the loss of professionals and entrepreneurs in the area.
Brain Gain consists of a 15-month goal to address workforce development and rebuild a culture of entrepreneurship in Youngstown and surrounding areas.
When asked if he wanted to stay in the area or move away after college, one panelist said he wants to stay and work in his own community so others will be able to relate to him.
“I’m from the area, I went through some of the same things that you guys have gone through. I would be able to understand, know why they’re doing what they’re doing or if they’re not able to do what they could be doing,” said Chaney senior KeLynn Dean.
The program visits local schools, middle school through college, and gets feedback from students through similar panel discussions.
“I feel it’s important to get feedback from students because we’re the youth. So long after adults are gone, it’s gonna be us kids left,” McRae said.
The panel touched on how resources in the area such as Inspiring Minds, Upward Bound, the Boys and Girls Club and Young Scholars have helped them advance academically and can help other students.
McRae said one thing she hopes others will take away from the discussion is to listen.
“Even if your experience isn’t the same as ours, it’s OK for you to listen to someone else’s story, listen to someone else’s struggle, to hear what they are also talking about,” she said.