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Need motivation? These career center grads are here to bring it

Manufacturing students learn how the program prepared recent graduates for work

Northview — Rylie Scudder and Sabastian Black readily admit they weren’t always the most attentive high-school students. There were days they would have rather slept in, instead of coming to school. And sometimes, both acknowledge, checking their phones took precedence over listening to their teachers.

But the steady guidance and consistent push from their instructors at Northview Next Career Center to stick with their schooling, to do their best and to not turn down opportunities paid off: both were offered full-time jobs with benefits from Amway before they even had their high-school diplomas.

They were introduced to the Ada company via a field trip when they were manufacturing lab students.

“I can tell you, anything these guys (instructors) are trying to get you to do, they’re definitely doing it to help you,” Rylie recently told a group of manufacturing lab students whom he and Sabastian visited at their alma mater. 

The pair, who work as manufacturing technicians in different plants, also spoke about what it’s like to have a full-time job with benefits and specific skills they learned at the career center that they use every day at their jobs (math, completing paperwork and developing a strong work ethic, to name just three). They discussed how their co-workers support and mentor them (including Rylie’s self-appointed “work mom,” Denise) and whether they think they made the right decision.

Both recalled that they weren’t initially enthusiastic about the manufacturing lab, or jobs in that industry, but said the list of “success skills” they practiced at the career center — including communication, teamwork and creative problem-solving — have helped them persevere.

“I use all that stuff every day, and not just at work,” Rylie said. “I use that stuff every day in life.” 

By accepting the job, Sabastian recalled (Northview Next Director Drew Klopcic) “saying to me, ‘What’s the worst that could happen? Why not just shoot your shot?’ … Don’t be afraid to try different things, and don’t shut the door on an opportunity just because you are not 100% sure.”

Northview Next manufacturing lab students listen to Sabastian Black and Rylie Scudder explain how they use skills they learned in the lab at Amway

Wanting To Be There

Klopcic said having the pair return to talk to students “can really be powerful for those who need something solid to gravitate toward.”

He said the school’s shift from a more traditional alternative high school to project-based learning that is oriented toward career exploration has “changed the culture” at Northview Next “from more having to be here to wanting to be here.” 

Currently, all 32 spots in the manufacturing lab — where students can earn core credits and industry certifications that put them ahead of other job-seekers their age — are filled, and about half those students are new this year at the career center. 

Rylie praised transferring to the school his senior year as “probably one of the better decisions I’ve ever made by coming here, because of how much it actually turned my life around.”

For junior Connor Scudder, what resonated with him most was his older brother’s advice to him and his peers, in retrospect: “be willing to be teachable” and be able to work with others.

“I’ve got kind of a closed mind,” Connor said. “I do the work, but it’s a struggle for me to actually get motivated to do it, so (he liked Rylie’s advice to) just listen to your teachers, being teachable.”

Northview Next manufacturing lab students are expected to visit Amway again this fall.

Read more from Northview: 
‘I can’t imagine doing anything else’
Manufacturing lab offers core credits, industry certification

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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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