New Initiative Says YES to Area Youth Searching for Jobs


      The University of Scranton’s Community Outreach Office and the Office of Career Services have partnered to offer individualized career mentoring to at-risk youth.

      Funded by a $17,000 Workforce Investment Area grant from the Scranton-Lackawanna Human Development Agency, the six-week YES (Youth Employment Series) Program offers career exploration and job search services to 20 qualified individuals between the ages of 14 to 21 who have had previous obstacles to employment. Participants, who are both in and out of school, will receive a Netbook computer to use for their job searches.

      “The goal of this program is to teach participants how to identify career opportunities that match their strengths and help them to put together an effective job-search plan,” said Patricia Vaccaro, director of community outreach at The University of Scranton, who is leading the program with Elizabeth Rozelle, assistant director of career services at Scranton.

      Twelve University of Scranton students have been trained to serve as career mentors for the YES Program to help participants develop employability skills and to provide job-search training. The students help participants map out future goals, such as graduating high school, considering post-secondary education, or finding employment. They then develop a program to train participants in the skills they need to get started toward their objectives.

      “We cover different topics every week, such as preparing for an interview or making a self-assessment,” said Matt Nealon of Clarks Summit, a sophomore accounting major. “They are learning how to promote themselves in the best way.”

      “We help the participants practice practical skills needed for a job search through role playing and other activities,” said Maria Marx of Scranton, a sophomore counseling and human services major. “The most rewarding part of the program for me has been to see the progress these kids have made.”

      “This has been an eye-opening experience for me as a mentor,” said Sal Frangipane of Staten Island, N.Y., a sophomore political science and philosophy double major who also participated in the University’s Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Honors Program. “I became aware that the kids don’t have the resources that I would expect. Because the program has more one-to-one interaction, we were able to create relationships and help them develop realistic short-term and long-term goals.”

      In addition to Nealon, Marx and Frangipane, the other University of Scranton students serving as career mentors are: Jillian Barry of Voorhees, N.J.; Caitlyn Brady of Wellesley, Mass.; Chelsea Casey of Archbald; Catherine Gallagher of Haverford; Breanne Grasso of Bloomfield, N.J.; T.J. Heintz of Washingtonville, N.Y.; Josh Martinez of Carrollton, Texas; Liz Pulice of East Greenville and Kim Witt of Waymart.

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