Prominent guests from Washington’s political, music and legal worlds were on hand as WC Smith kicked off the 27th Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) at THEARC on June 24.
Ward 7 Council Member Vincent Gray, DJ Akademiks from WPGC and Tiffany Wright, managing associate at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, gave keynote remarks, sharing lessons and insights drawn from their experiences to this year’s 50 SYEP participants.
SYEP offers youth ages 14-17 a 6-week paid job working at a WC Smith property or the iCan Theater at THEARC. The teens also participate in workshops and outings, which can include sessions on financial literacy and wellness, visits to local colleges and museums, and outdoor activities.
Akademiks recounted his troubled childhood in Baltimore and how he eventually reached his goal of being on the radio. Wright described her journey from growing up in a difficult surroundings in Ward 8 to graduating from law school and clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Gray talked about his DC roots and his work with Covenant House, a partner at THEARC.
Each speaker had a similar message for the teens: take advantage of the opportunity SYEP affords, make a good impression on everyone they meet and use the experience as a foundation for planning their future.
Since 1992, WC Smith has employed more than 1,300 teens through SYEP, representing more than 75 high schools in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. To qualify for the program, the teens must live in a WC Smith property or be the dependent of a WC Smith employee. Many WC Smith employees are involved with SYEP: screening applications, interviewing applicants, organizing events, chaperoning field trips and supervising the teens in their jobs.