Student Success Conference draws 100

Submitted to Dorchester Banner/Cat Beise
Some of the students who attended the success conference are seen working in a classroom at Chesapeake College in Cambridge.

CAMBRIDGE — More than 100 people, including students, parents, presenters, and volunteers, gave up their Saturday to participate in the Student Success Conference at Chesapeake College Cambridge Center.

The event was organized and led by Voncia Molock, the 1984 valedictorian from North Dorchester High School and currently senior manager of IT Operations and Support at Perdue.

According to Bill Christopher of the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce, the conference offered students an opportunity “to learn about careers and to understand what the opportunities are, and connect it with where they are in school now and why school matters.”

After registering, students and parents split up for separate programs.
The students, who came from Maces Lane Middle, C-SDHS, NDHS, ND Middle, as well as Easton and Seaford, Del., got involved right away with an icebreaker activity where they had to meet someone new and introduce them to the group, a team-building and networking exercise. Ms. Molock emphasized to the students the importance of education and life-long learning.
Next, the students heard Leigh McNeil, from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, about careers with the Navy, as well as Summer STEM Camp for middle schoolers and summer seminars for high school students.

Following that, James Tarantin, an entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker, described how he overcame numerous obstacles to succeed. He told the students that it is neither luck nor talent that ultimately determines success, but instead it is pain, perhaps a painful event or situation, that drives people to change their behavior and strive to become their higher selves. He told the students, “Do what’s necessary, not what’s popular.”

After a short break, with healthy snacks, Lynn Sorrells from DCTC urged students to take advantage of a wide range of skills-based courses and apprenticeship programs. Brandon Hesson of Chesapeake College offered advice and information about courses and programs, summer classes, Promise Scholarships, and dual-enrollment opportunities.

Meanwhile, parents attended sessions moderated by Sharon Young. Dr. Theresa Stafford presented the status of Dorchester County Schools, LaSina Branch reviewed Guidance Services available in Dorchester public schools, and Mr. Christopher discussed Scholarship opportunities.

After lunch, the parents rejoined the students for the afternoon. Ms. Molock had gathered successful professionals, from Eastern and Western Shores and beyond. Split into four sessions, each six-person panel answered student questions about the role of education in their professional success, and what it was like to work in their respective fields.

Panelists, diverse in ethnicity and gender, represented business management, engineering, medicine, IT and cybersecurity, government, public safety, counseling, and the military. Four CEOs offered their perspective as heads of companies.

Students got exposure and ideas about many careers they may not have previously considered. The students’ final task and take-away was an exercise in developing their personal vision for the future.

At the end of the conference, of the 60 percent of students who completed a survey, all said the conference helped them understand the importance of education.

Student comments included: “The conference was great! Please let me know when they have another one,” “It was wonderful,” “It was awesome,” “The speakers were great,” and “I learned a lot!”

Ms. Molock said, “All students were given the opportunity to see what they could be. I am truly grateful to the Perdue Foundation, the Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce, Mike Starling and WHCP, Stephen Rideout, Sharon Young, my amazing family, all presenters, panelists, students and parents.”

Ms. Molock can be reached at vonciamolock@gmail.com.