- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

DECATUR, Ill. (AP) - Last year, Carlisha Applewhite stumbled onto her calling and has become passionate about it.

She began volunteering to help with the special-education students’ cheerleading squad at MacArthur High School and discovered what she wants to do with her life. This year, she’s also doing exploratory teaching and helping in the classroom, and on Tuesday, she interviewed for an internship at Macon Resources Inc., working with adults with disabilities.

“I just fell in love with it,” Applewhite said of her work with students who have disabilities.

Lori Brown, director of Independence Pointe, and Sherri Rutherford, who is at Macon Resources’ headquarters, said they were looking for people with the right qualities to work with people who have disabilities.

“You want someone who has a heart for it,” said Applewhite, a senior at MacArthur. “It’s not just a job.”

Her plan is to be a high school special-education teacher, and working with adults at Macon Resources will help her prepare for her future students, she said, not only by giving her experience, but by providing a look into services available for adults with disabilities.

Decatur schools piloted an internship program last year called Pathways to Prosperity. Seven businesses accepted 22 student interns, who worked on projects with employees of those businesses. It was so successful, said Ashley Grayned, extended learning coordinator, that businesses called her to ask if they could be part of it this year. Now named Inspired Futures, with 13 business partners and 37 students signed up, the idea is to provide students with work experience and contacts.

“They’re working on real projects,” Grayned said. “They’re not just filing papers.”

Grayned provided students with applications and a list of participating businesses, and they marked a first and second choice for placement. Interviews were held and internships will take place Jan. 12 through April 30.

Senior Tiffany Welford interviewed for an internship at Caterpillar Inc. She wants to become an obstetrician/gynecologist, and plans to major in biochemistry as an undergraduate. Experience at Caterpillar, she said, will give her a good grounding.

“I want to see what the working world is like before I enter it,” she said. “I don’t want to go in blind.”


Source: The (Decatur) Herald & Review, https://bit.ly/21gFMlf


Information from: Herald & Review, https://www.herald-review.com

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