Asheville high rising junior Dalvin Battle, right, is working with Adam Griffith in the City’s IT Services Department on a GIS mapping project designed to show how Asheville’s development evolved.
They could be sleeping in. Or hanging out at the pool. Instead, the 38 Asheville area high school students participating in the City of Asheville’s Youth Leadership Academy are gaining valuable experience as summer interns.
Formed in 2007, the CAYLA program recruits, trains and places local high school students at meaningful summer jobs with the City and with participating agencies. This year, the program expanded from Asheville High to include participation from Buncombe County high schools.
Also this year the City has five CAYLA alumni serving as “growth coaches,” said Erika Germer, the City’s Workforce Development Programs Coordinator. The growth coaches have served as mentors and workshop facilitators for the current CAYLA class.
The CAYLA students not only work during their internships. They participate in service projects and leadership training. During the school year, Germer keeps in touch with them. She also helps them with their college applications.
Rising junior Dalvin Battle (pictured above) scanned literally hundreds of aerial images of Asheville for a special project while working in the City’s Internet Technology Services Department this summer. Dalvin has been teamed with a college intern, Adam Griffith, on a GIS project designed to show how Asheville’s development evolved.
“The images show how we went from one straight interstate through Asheville to how I-240 developed,” Dalvin said.
“Before I started working on this project I wasn’t thinking about the past,” he said. But looking at the pictures, he said he was struck with how much deforestion Asheville has experienced. “I can see how present development may affect our future,” he said.
A varsity basketball front guard, Dalvin takes honors chemistry, English and math. He likes working on cars with his father and sees how a degree in technology may allow him to combine both interests.
In the mornings, Asheville High linebacker and running back Taquandre Bates goes to football practice. Come afternoon, he’s working with the Asheville Water Resources Meter Division.
“I had no clue what I was getting into but it turned out pretty good,” Bates said.
The rising senior rides the truck with technicians, who teach him along the way and then let him try his hand.
“I’m mostly observing but I got to install two meters, do tests with backflow teams and install a tap,” he said.
“This is our fifth year of working with CAYLA,” said Brandon Buckner, Meter Services Division Manager. “The opportunity to work with Bates has been tremendous. One thing that struck me about him is he is calm, collected and astute. That part of operations that he got to see — meter technicians, taps and backflow — provide a great life lesson. He gets to see our hard-working staff, who go out and maintain this system to provide clean, healthy drinking water.”
Bates aspires to major in sports medicine in college.
Erwin High rising senior Kaitlyn Srey wants to work in the hospitality industry so landing an internship at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce proved to be a good match. There she has rotated through several departments.
“My first week at the Chamber, I worked with the membership department,” she wrote in a blog post about her experience. “During this week, membership had an event called WomanUp. My week consisted of researching, preparation, networking and, some paperwork. While working with finance in the second week of the internship, I did get a few papercuts. Finance is what keeps this place spinning. At the halfway mark, I’m with the economic department.”
Kaitlyn said her goal is to own a hotel and place it right here in Asheville.
“Working with economic development has been the most educational so far,” she added.
She’s been learning about the many factors taken into consideration when a company decides to relocate or expand to the Asheville area.
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