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May 1, 2023

Inaugural Graduation of Career and Leadership Development Academy Celebrates Wilmington’s Future Business Leaders

Sponsored Content provided by Natalie English - President & CEO, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

As the inaugural year of the Career and Leadership Development Academy comes to a close, I wanted to reflect on the program's successes and share why we felt it was important to launch in the first place.
 
The Career and Leadership Development Academy was born out of a recognition that our community's economic future depends on the development and retention of local talent. As the Wilmington region continues to grow and attract new businesses, it's more important than ever that we have a skilled and engaged workforce ready to take on the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
 
But developing that talent pipeline is easier said than done. While our local schools do a fantastic job of educating our students, we recognized that there was a gap in the opportunities available to middle school students to explore their interests, develop their skills, and connect with local business leaders.
 
That's where the Career and Leadership Development Academy comes in. Designed for seventh-grade students, the program offers a unique blend of classroom instruction, hands-on experiences, and mentorship opportunities that help students explore different career pathways, build important skills, and develop the confidence they need to pursue their dreams.
 
For the last ten months, our students have had the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities that have exposed them to different industries and careers available to them in New Hanover County. They've visited local businesses, attended workshops on communication and leadership, and even had the chance to tour a film studio and learn about the many roles that go into making a movie.
 
Through it all, we've been thrilled to see our students grow and thrive. We've seen them develop important skills like teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking. We've seen them gain confidence in their own abilities and start to envision a bright future for themselves. And we've seen them connect with local business leaders who can help guide them along the way.
 
But perhaps most importantly, we've seen them start to understand the many opportunities that exist right here in our own backyard. Our region is home to a diverse range of businesses and industries, from healthcare and education to technology and manufacturing. And through the Career and Leadership Development Academy, our students have been able to explore those different pathways and start to envision their own future as part of our local workforce.
 
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the support of our partners and sponsors. We're grateful to the Truist Foundation for their generous support of our program, which has enabled us to offer these valuable opportunities to our students at no cost. And we're grateful to the many local businesses and organizations that have welcomed our students and provided them with meaningful experiences and mentorship.
 
As we look ahead to the future of the Career and Leadership Development Academy, we're excited to continue building on the successes of our inaugural year. We're already making plans to expand the program to reach even more students next year, and we're exploring new partnerships and opportunities that will help us continue to offer high-quality programming and support to our local talent pipeline.
 
But for now, we want to celebrate the achievements of our students and thank everyone who has made this program possible. Together, we're building a brighter future for our community and our economy, one student at a time.

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