ASHEVILLE – The City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA) fosters success stories for students year after year.
From 2008-2011, the total scholarship money awarded to CAYLA students was more than $400,000. In addition, 100 percent of CAYLA students in 2008-2010, as well as the 2011 graduating class have been accepted to college.
The below vignettes focus on the 2011 class, their career goals and what they’ve learned from their CAYLA internships this summer. CAYLA’s mission is to provide students with a meaningful summer work experience; leadership development through seminars and community service; and college preparatory activities, including yearlong academic support.
Since its inception in 2007, CAYLA has been nationally-recognized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. CAYLA students are chosen through a competitive application and interview process by a committee of local educators and human resources professionals. The program is supported in part by the I Have a Dream Foundation, HomeTrust Bank, Dixon Hughes Goodman PLLC, and McGuire Wood & Bissette.
Spotlight on the 2011 CAYLA class
Omar is a rising sophomore at Asheville High School and this is his first year in CAYLA (City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy). Omar’s first year of CAYLA has already been very beneficial for him. He’s working with the city’s Information Technology Services Department and his internship is directly related to the career he plans on doing in the future.
After high school, Omar plans to attend UNC Asheville or N.C. State University to major in computer engineering and to pursue a career as a computer engineer. Omar is grateful for the opportunity to be able to work in a department focused on his interests and he’s gaining a great deal of experience learning about virtual software and how to troubleshoot computers. He thinks this experience is preparing him to manage workplace obstacles and is also teaching him responsibility. He hopes that the CAYLA program continues until he graduates.
Ceante is a rising senior at Asheville High School and has been a member of the CAYLA program since 2009. Ceante is involved with the AHS band, the chess club, and ASPIRE, which draws from a diverse cross-section of people to inspire students to aspire for a better life. This summer, he is interning with the city’s Information Technology Services Department, as he did his first CAYLA year. He has enjoyed building strong relationships with the staff while gaining in-depth knowledge about computers. When he graduates from high school, Ceante plans to attend N.C. State University to major in computer engineering, his chosen career field. CAYLA has made Ceante’s career goals all the more attainable because his internship is directly related with the career he wants to pursue.
Kearra is a rising senior who has been a member of CAYLA (City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy) for two years. She attends Asheville High School and is involved with Colorguard, Triple S (Sisters Striving to Succeed), F.Y.I. (For Your Information), the CTE Honor Society, the National Honor Society, and AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination). After Kearra graduates she plans to attend a four-year university and major in computer science. After college, she would like to work as a computer tech and possibly attend graduate school to further her education.
During her two years with CAYLA, Kearra has enjoyed the program and has gained a lot from it. She is currently working with Asheville Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Department and is quickly becoming an expert in Microsoft Excel, in addition to covering the front desk and many other miscellaneous tasks. Overall, Kearra thinks CAYLA is an amazing opportunity and encourages the city council to continue to support it for many years to come.
Jayln is a rising sophomore at Asheville High School and is a member of the Asheville High Cougars football team. This summer he interned as a CAYLA student in the City of Asheville Water Resources Department in the Meter Services Division.
Jayln loves to challenge himself and does whatever he can to improve, both in and out of school. He is also a member of the track team at Asheville High, and currently holds a state championship ring that he proudly contributed to.
At school, Jayln takes all honor courses and is also in AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), as well as the National Honor Society.
After he graduates, Jayln would like to continue playing football at higher levels, including collegiate. He enjoys studying world history and its various aspects. Jayln wants to learn more about our country and world. Jayln says his CAYLA internship has helped him to grow, excel, and improve as a student. He has enjoyed working with a diverse group of co-workers who taught him about teamwork, hard work, and knowing that one’s decisions really matter and do affect others. He looks forward to continuing with CAYLA in the coming years.
Jalen will start his junior year at Asheville High School this fall. He is on the football team as well as the indoor and outdoor track teams. Jalen is a math-oriented person who likes to work with his hands. When he graduates, he plans to enroll in a four-year college or university and major in mechanical engineering. With his degree, he plans to get a job in the automotive industry working with cars.
Jalen is enjoying his first year in the CAYLA program and likes the work he does. He splits his work week between the fleet maintenance and transit divisions. He has learned valuable skills in his time with the CAYLA program, such as how to communicate with co-workers and how to navigate the “hidden rules of the workplace.” All in all, Jalen thinks that CAYLA is a great program and is an amazing opportunity for local youth.
Jaquell is new to CAYLA this summer, and is interning with the Asheville Fire Department. This fall, Jaquell will begin his sophomore year at Asheville High School. He’s already looking forward to AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a class that will assist him in preparing for college. Jaquell also enjoys art, history, and science.
At AFD, Jaquell has learned what it takes to be a firefighter and has a better understanding of what to do during an emergency situation. Jaquell also had the chance to join firefighters as they visited summer camps and taught children what to do when a fire occurs. CAYLA matters to him because it helps teenagers set goals for their future and gives them something productive to do with their time.
Markes is a rising senior at Asheville High who has been in the CAYLA program for two years. He’s very outgoing in school, and enjoys being a part of AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), Sports Outreach, Aspire, and the football team. After Markes graduates, he plans to attend a four-year university, preferably at UNC-Greensboro or Chapel Hill. He has not quite decided the career he plans on pursuing in the future, but possibly wants to come back to Asheville after college and work for the city.
Markes is working for two departments this summer: Administrative Services and the Minority Business Office. Markes says his job is benefiting him because he’s thinking about working for the City of Asheville and his internship is giving him an inside look on what it would be like. CAYLA so far has been a great experience for Markes, and he is thankful to be given such an opportunity.
Abel is a rising junior at Asheville High. He is involved in cross country, indoor track, track & field, the Spanish Club, and orchestra. Despite his many activities, Abel is committed to his education: His report card has all A’s with the rare exception of a few B’s. After graduating from high school, Abel plans to attend UNC Chapel Hill and major in architecture with as many scholarships he can obtain. After college, Abel plans to further his education by earning a master’s degree to become a construction manager.
This summer, Abel has been working in the Building Safety Department, and has had the chance to visit the construction sites that the city is overseeing. He has learned the many safety features that need to be included in houses or buildings to ensure maximum security. He has also been diligently working in the office to advance his skills in Microsoft Excel. Abel thinks that CAYLA is a great program to do during the summer and believes it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Abel hopes the city can support this program for many years to come.
Emmanuel, whose friends call him Manny, is interning in the Public Works Department this summer. He is a rising sophomore at Asheville High school and plays on the football team. Manny plans to attend a four-year college and major in business. At this point, he is undecided about specifics but envisions himself as the CEO of a large corporation someday.
This is Manny’s first year in CAYLA and he’s been busy learning about the many functions and responsibilities of the streets division. He has had many opportunities to shadow the division’s employees and now has a much greater understanding of the services our city provides to its residents. Manny thinks CAYLA is “an amazing program” and is happy that he has had the opportunity to work alongside professionals. He is already a dedicated volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and is also looking forward to giving back to the community with the other CAYLA students throughout the school year.
Kasia is a rising senior at Asheville High School who has been in the CAYLA program for two years. She is involved with AP classes, AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) and is also a cheerleader. After she graduates high school, Kasia plans to attend college to become a pediatric cardiologist. She would also like to open her own school someday. She has always taken an interest in medicine and wants to be a doctor. Also she likes kids, so she combined all of these aspects and came up with this career path.
Kasia says CAYLA is giving her the tools she needs to have to fulfill her future plans. This year, Kasia is working with the Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department and is enjoying her experience. Over all, Kasia thinks CAYLA is an amazing opportunity that is helping her to gain personal skills that will help her later in life.
Chris will start his senior year at Asheville High School this fall, where he is a member of MCJROTC, Aspire, and Strings. He plays on the golf team and is a former wrestler. Chris’ talents are also musical: He can play piano; stand up bass, electric bass, electric and acoustic guitar, and drums, nearly all of which he taught himself to play. He started out on bass in sixth grade with his strings class and has been playing bass ever since. He is also the music director at his church. Chris plans to attend a four-year college to major in music and minor in fire science. After college, he would like to become a well-known music director.
Chris is currently working with the Asheville Fire Department and he really enjoys it. He has learned about the many responsibilities firefighters have and about the technology involved in keeping people safe. Chris credits CAYLA with helping students like him to set future goals, practice their social skills, and expand their leadership potential. Chris hopes CAYLA will be around for many years.