WATERVILLE — With ten new JMG programs established across the state last fall, this year’s Career Development Conference was the largest student event ever hosted by JMG. Nearly 700 students from across Maine, including many from Lewiston High School, Oak Hill High School and Lisbon High School, took part March 27, in a high stress career skills competition at Thomas College.

“CDC is a chance for JMG students to show off the hard work they’ve been doing in the classroom and in their communities,” said Michelle Bourne, a JMG specialist at Lewiston Regional Technical Center. “They work all year perfecting these important career-ready skills so they can come here and compete at a level that is really meaningful.”

The Career Development Conference is JMG’s signature event and is a celebration of all of the work the students have put into preparing for life after graduation. With more than 100 Maine employers and community leaders acting as judges and facilitators, students went head-to-head in a variety of job skills competitions, including public speaking, marketing, communications and team-building.

During opening ceremonies, JMG presented the Above & Beyond Award to Bank of America and General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works for their outstanding support of JMG students. “JMG gets such strong support from our associates because it effectively delivers on its mission to thousands of Maine students every year,” said Bill Williamson, Maine president of Bank of America. “Bank of America believes JMG is one of the most important programs in Maine leading to our eventual success in overcoming our workforce development challenges. “

Along with the competitions, students networked with businesses and colleges in the College & Career Expo. Several students were awarded college scholarships from the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Procter & Gamble Scholarship Fund and the Andrew L. Hutchins Scholarship Fund.

Christa Wilcox, a junior at Lewiston High School, brought home a trophy in communications. It’s a big win for Christa for many reasons. Christa said, “I used to be a very shy and reserved person who knew very few people and had even fewer friends. But JMG has helped me to blossom and come out of my shell a lot.”

Regardless of whether they take home a scholarship or trophy, Michelle Bourne says CDC is a touchstone for personal growth for many students; and, a chance to see for themselves what they are really made of. “The students are excited about their future and want to showcase the critical skills they know employers are seeking in today’s workforce.”

After the competitions were over and the last trophy handed out, Wilcox said, “Before JMG, the thought of speaking had me paralyzed with fear but the program has taught me how to be a better public speaker and more confident, overall. JMG teaches real-life skills that come in handy in the professional world. Being a part of JMG is truly a privilege and an honor.”

Lewiston High School students attended the JMG Career Development Conference in Waterville. From left are Christa Wilcox, who won an award in communications,  Zach Morin, Lucas Nichols, Bradley Drake, Hodan Musse and Koos Mohamed.

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