JAG Day celebrated by students, others at Seymour


Students from Seymour, Brownstown Central and Crothersville made connections, networked and learned of new opportunities during the inaugural JAG Day Thursday at Aisin World Corp. in Seymour.

This day was all about the three E’s, said Jackie Hill, workforce director for the Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. The students learned about enlistment, enrollment and employment opportunities after high school.

“These workshops are a chance for the students to network with community and industry leaders,” Hill said. “We also want to create an awareness of JAG and the opportunities it brings.”

The Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) workforce program is a state-based, national non-profit organization that helps students learn in-demand employability skills and provides a bridge to post-secondary education and career advancement opportunities.

Currently there are 125 JAG programs available throughout Indiana.

Students from their respected schools wore JAG Day T-shirts in their school colors to honor the occasion.

Principal Kara Hunt and school counselor Jessica Wischmeier from Medora Community School Corp. were in attendance exploring the idea of adding a JAG program.

“We hope that Medora will join in the JAG program which will make Jackson County the first to have a JAG program in all of its public high schools,” Hill said.

The day started with Mark Handloser, general manager of human resources for Aisin World Corp., providing opening remarks.

“I have heard a lot of great things about the students that are here today,” he said. “Whatever your next steps are after graduation just remember there are lots of opportunities for success.”

Handloser shared what Aisin offers as a company and the opportunities it can provide after graduation, such as tuition reimbursement.

“Jackson County has a lot to offer no matter what career path you want to take,” he said. “Stay positive, work hard, keep your nose clean and follow your dreams.”

Crothersville sophomore Haley Roberts said after graduation she hopes to travel around the world as a writer and photographer.

“I love JAG because of how supportive everyone is,” she said.

Staff Sgt. Kevin Dooling, the U.S. Marine Corps recruiter for southern Indiana, spoke about enlistment and how a career pathway into the military provides more opportunity than some may think.

Dooling said the Marine Corps. provides educational opportunities offering those who want to attend an accredited college or trade school. While the military can offer a variety of job opportunities Dooling said it is important to pass the requirements to join. Some of the requirements include a physical and mental health evaluation along with passing an ASVAB (Armed Services Vovational Aptitude Battery) test to name a few.

“Most people look at the military as a back-up plan, but its not that easy,” he said. “Less than 10% of students meet standards to join the Marine Corps.”

Even though joining the military and serving is no easy feat, Dooling said he enjoys the comradery and the lifelong friends he has made while in service to his country.

Throughout the day students shared what they love most about JAG and their plans for the future.

“I have enjoyed just making new friends and learning new opportunities,” Seymour High School junior Grant Cooper said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without JAG.”

Cooper plans to go into cosmetology school after graduating in December.

“We get to tour colleges and see the different campuses,” Seymour High School junior Payton Patrick said of the JAG program.

Patrick plans to study education at Indiana University Southeast.

Admissions counselor Sandy Almendares Monge at Indiana University Columbus talked about the enrollment process and the difference between colleges and universities, areas of study available and cost.

A number of students raised their hands when Monge asked if anyone was planning to further their education with a degree.

Monge shared information about college applications, scholarships and finding the right major. She also said time management is a skill that is important for those students who are on their own for the first time.

Seymour High School senior Ruth Guevara said she hopes to become a translator as a career and has even translated for fellow students on certain trips.

“I enjoy the community service aspect of JAG and the opportunities this program brings,” she said.

Seymour High School senior Gary Lee plans to study computer science at IU Southeast to eventually return to Seymour as an engineer.

“I love going to the different facilities and seeing all the opportunities to work in Seymour,” he said. “The college visits and this will prepare me for the future.”

Many former JAG students also attended JAG Day to share their experience in the program.

Francisco Sebastian graduated from Seymour High School last year and plans to go to a college or trade school to study car mechanics.

“I really enjoyed going to the different colleges to see what they offered,” he said. “I also enjoyed a competition that we had with other schools in the area that tested our public speaking and critical thinking.”

During his time in JAG he said friends were made and it was a place where he found support.

Wrapping up the three E’s was an employment panel featuring employers in various fields in Jackson County.

One of the panelist, director of the Jackson County Chamber, Dan Robison, spoke about entrepreneurship and the retail industry.

“Find something you are passionate about in your career path,” he said. “Find something that gets you up in the morning and then find a way to make money doing it. Also, don’t be afraid to change career paths and find what works for you.”

Before the students had lunch and played trivia to finish up the day, Richard Paulk, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, shared some words of inspiration and thanked those who are guiding these future leaders.

“Looking around this room, it is evident how this community, employers, local officials and schools are fully united to support tomorrows leaders,” he said.

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