Local Student is Finalist for National Job Corps Oratory Competition
Mae`la Way, a student at the Los Angeles Job Corps Center, this week learned that she had earned a trip to Washington, D.C. as one of four finalists in the National Job Corps Student Oratory Competition. The second annual competition challenged Job Corps students to answer the question: How has Job Corps impacted your life?
Mae`la’s speech highlights the challenges of growing up homeless, the feeling of time slipping away, and the need to complete a high school education in order to succeed.
“Tick tock. Every 29 seconds, a student gives up on high school,” she begins her speech.
“Tick tock. Day in, day out, for the past two years of my life I’ve worked at a bakery from nine to five and the movies from 5:30 until 12:30. On the many walks home, I meditate on my life as the cool winds of the winter slap me on my face. I’m reminded of my life and its slow, slow pace.”
“Being homeless for the majority of my high school career was not how I imagined my life. I had dreams of musical theater and living in New York City; however, my reality would soon be working two dead end jobs, with no room for promotion, to support myself and my family. That is something I would not accept.”
Since entering Job Corps, Mae`la has gotten back on track to completing her education and through training provided by the Transportation Communication International Union program at LAJCC she is preparing for a career as a flight attendant.
“I can say with confidence that my life began the first day of [Job Corps]. Being introduced to teachers who are genuine and not frustrated when I am confused, I no longer hide behind the student in front of me, embarrassed or ashamed that I don’t know the answers to a math question.”
“I’ve gained confidence when it comes to my education, something I couldn’t see.”
The finalists were selected by judges representing the administration, Congress, and the National Job Corps Association for their eloquence and passion in sharing their stories, as well as the content and structure of their speeches. Job Corps students videotaped their five-minute speeches before a live audience at their Job Corps center.
"Mae`la is a perfect example of what our youth can accomplish when given an opportunity,” said LAJCC Center Director Jackie Honore. “She was always a driven person but Job Corps has given her the focus and direction to propel her forward. Her excitement is contagious and we look forward to her winning the competition in Washington.”
The competition finals will be held on November 19th, 2010 at 3 p.m. in the Great Hall of the U.S. Department of Labor. Along with three other Job Corps finalists from around the country, Mae`la will present her speech before Department of Labor officials and other officials from President Obama's administration. Following their speeches, the finalists will be asked to respond to a questions posed by the panel of judges and their response will be factored into their overall score.
Mae`la’s video is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dZ0TSuz5Js.