Smart talk: Young professionals share stories with teens at St. Pauls

St. Paul AME Zion Church recently hosted a Career Day event that brought in young professionals from Atlanta, Chicago and Blount County to share their career and life stories with teens in the community.

Sharon Hannum said the April 16 event at the church at 401 W. Broadway Ave. went well. “It was an awesome day. Each presenter was great,” Hannum said. “Some parents asked us to do it again. We think it changed the hearts and minds of a few young people. They really connected.”

Hannum said that while this wasn’t the first time the church had held a Career Day, it was something they hadn’t done in several years. “This was the first time we did this quite this way,” Hannum said, adding that the presenters gave their personal testimonies and shared their professional lives and the challenges they face in their lives.

Hannum said sometimes young people don’t understand about setting goals and pursuing a career, often because they don’t like studying or going to school.

“Being able to hear from professionals who have made it and are there to tell how they were able to be successful really gives hope to young people,” Hannum said. “It lets them see all things are possible, even when you don’t really like school. It shows that the whole studying thing can still pay off for you!”

Hannum said teens often have the notion that those who are successful in their careers were always gung-ho about studying and school. “But even doctors, lawyers and business people had times when they were second-guessing themselves and wondering if they were making good choices,” she said. “Hearing from successful people not much older than they are really made an impact. It is one thing to hear a message from people who are 50 or 60, and it is another thing to hear from someone in their 20s and 30s.”

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