At TSCS, every rising 10th, 11th, and 12th grader is required to complete a Summer Growth Experience (SGE). In order to achieve our mission of success in college and life, our students must experience settings outside of our school. The ability to adapt to other settings, expectations and structures is a valuable soft skill that we want each student to have before graduating. These normally range from summer jobs and internships to attending boarding school and other activities.

However, with the current COVID-19 pandemic affecting travel, jobs, and other in-person experiences, some of our students have chosen to complete virtual SGEs and we are very proud of them. Here are some brief essays by 12th grader Darius Rosser and 11th grader Shaniya Tucker, who tell us in their own words what these experiences have entailed and what they have learned from them. 

Darius Rosser

Hello, my name is Darius Rosser and I am currently a TSCS senior attempting to achieve acceptance to either the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute or The Cooper Union. To increase my chances of standing out and in the long run prepare myself for the future of adulthood, I chose to apply to MPLOY [a locally funded initiative that provides City of Memphis youth ages 14 to 22 with meaningful and rewarding summer experiences] to gain job experience and to earn my own money. Originally, I learned about MPLOY during my 10th-grade year from my aunt; however, I wasn’t accepted. Nevertheless, this setback didn’t stop me from trying again the following year. Thus, due to my determination and applying earlier, I was accepted into MPLOY after many steps put into place by the city of Memphis to pick a large, selected group of people.

During my time at MPLOY, despite the technical issues of designated websites we were required to use, I learned many new things that would help me in life and new skills that were either required for the workforce or help you stand out. For example, when we met with a credit union we learned the importance of knowing the difference between credit and debit, the steps to take to ensure you have a good credit score, and how not to pay more on your credit/debit bills than you have to. Additionally, we learned that to become a proficient entrepreneur you would need to have background knowledge in accounting. Lastly, one of the biggest requirements of the program was that you had to get a Microsoft certification.

Due to the things that we learned and the requirement to gain a certification in Microsoft, MPLOY enabled me to have a better understanding of the long road of adulthood one needs to travel and allowed me to get a head start on my future. Because of this, I was not only able to get a promotion on my second week, but I was also able to get invited for the chance to enter MPLOY again without having to go through as many stages as before. So overall, I would suggest to anyone while they still have time to take advantage of getting an SGE because it may seem tedious now but in the long run it will improve your future and enable you to exceed limits you thought you had. 

Shaniya Tucker 

Over the summer, I was given the opportunity to volunteer at Regional One and LeBonheur Children’s Hospital. I filled out the application when I heard about their volunteer program for teens at school. Being that the students didn’t return to school, I took it upon myself to make sure I could get accepted into these programs. I wanted to do something over the summer that would give me an inside look at what working in the hospital would look like. So when I got accepted into both programs, I was ecstatic and super grateful. However, COVID became worse and the programs kept pushing the dates back. Both programs end up canceling and I was very upset about this. Even though they cancelled they made it where the program could still happen virtually. 

To me, it was not going to be the same as if we were in person, but I still was happy that we could do something. Virtually, we got to hear the experiences of doctors and nurses and ask them questions. Being that I want to go into nursing in the future, I made sure I asked many questions. The experience was very informational and somewhat helpful to what I can look out for. I was upset that I couldn’t physically be in the hospital, but I actually enjoyed being able to at least speak with professionals. They even provided videos for us to watch and each video explained different fields. They included a person that worked in that field to talk about what they did, how their jobs impact them, and what made them go into that field. This was a great experience and I appreciated being able to be a part of this opportunity.