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‘I can’t imagine doing anything else’

Your Dream is Our Dream: Sabastian Black

Editor’s note: Your Dream is Our Dream: Celebrating Student Success brings you conversations with students about their dreams and the educators who ignite and inspire them. In a new series from School News Network, students from all levels of education share in their own words and pictures how learning connects them to achieving their goals and exploring their ambitions. An initiative of Kent ISD, Your Dream is Our Dream showcases student success and how teaching and learning help make dreams come true.

Northview — Sabastian Black says he’s living his dream right now, having gone from doubts about whether he would have the grades to graduate high school to multiple job offers from an international company that already feels like family, he said.

Though he grew up tagging along on some of his father’s residential remodeling and electrical jobs, Black said he had long hoped to become a police officer. But when he transferred for his senior year to Northview Next Career Center, the district’s alternative learning campus, he discovered a passion via the center’s then-new manufacturing lab for something at which he seemed naturally talented.

By the end of the year, Black and a few of his classmates had already earned industry certification most of their fellow job-seekers don’t have at the time of hire. As a result, they snagged pre-graduation offers from Amway, now an industry partner with Northview Next. The company even held a signing event for them at school.

Northview Next Career Center students, from left, Rylie Scudder, Sabastian Black, Kamren Wheeler and Alijah Holy Rock, are pictured on the day Amway offered them jobs right out of high school (courtesy)

What is your dream? Black said he is already living it.

“I’d heard of Amway, but I had honestly never considered it (as a career),” he said. “You hear ‘factory job’ and you’re just kind of like, ‘hmph,’ to be honest.” But his senior year, his class took a tour of the company, and seeing the possibilities piqued his interest. 

Today, Black is a manufacturing technician at Amway. He spends his work days making sure the sensors on vitamin bottling and labeling machines are working properly. 

“We run the whole line,” he said. “We’ve got to know a little bit of everything on each machine. And your personality is really important where I work — having to get along with people and being able to de-escalate quickly — because it’s a fast-moving place.”

Why is this your dream? The atmosphere at Northview Next helped him trust that his teachers and his peers were a team and looking out for one another’s success, he said. Having a similar sense of family at work is huge for Black.  

At Amway, he said, “they really like to keep it family-feeling, the same as with (Northview Next). That’s what made me want to look into it more. And now, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I feel like it was meant to be.

“Throughout my life I haven’t had a consistency, ever. It’s never been steady, like you know things were going to be the same the next day. (At Northview Next), no matter what happened, I knew I had these people and this place to come to. With Amway, even with how big the company is, they really want you to succeed.”

Sabastian Black, right, worked last school year with classmates Lucan Hubbart, left, and Alexander Helenius in the manufacturing lab at Northview Next Career Center (courtesy)

How are school and your teachers helping you achieve your dream? Judging from the rock star welcome he received from his former teachers when he recently visited his alma mater, Black is thankful for every adult at Northview Next. He credited high school counselor Mike Kapustka for steering him to consider making the switch to the career center: “He guided me here, so he was definitely the person who opened that door.” 

Black also acknowledged manufacturing lab teacher Brian Hendricks.

“They’ve all made sure that no matter what happens outside of school, I wasn’t going to give up,” Black said. “They all made sure I kept going.”

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio


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