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Alabama Power hosts 2021 Youth Leadership Conference virtually


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Alabama Power Youth Leadership Conference went virtual for the first time Thursday, in a very big way.

More than 3,000 students in west and east Alabama watched the event via live stream from their classrooms and homes.

“We certainly miss seeing our students in person this year, but we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to host this program,” said Mark Crews, Alabama Power Western Division vice president. “By going virtual, we were able to have more students in west Alabama participate.”

This is the 19th year that the Western Division has held the event. In past years, the division hosted an in-person, one-day event at the University of Alabama, with an average attendance of more than 500 students from the area.

The virtual option presented the opportunity to expand to other areas of the state.

“This was our first year hosting the conference for students in east Alabama,” said Terry Smiley, Alabama Power Eastern Division vice president. “Supporting education is a core focus area for our team. While we had originally hoped to host an in-person event, we are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate and utilize technology to safely extend this resource to students at their respective location.”

Students heard from speakers on topics including career and college planning, financial preparedness and youth activism. The career panel featured speakers from business and industry in west and east Alabama, including the Anniston Army Depot, Hunt Refining Company, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, IBM, Jacksonville State University, the University of Alabama and WestRock. Panelists shared career tips, highlighted opportunities within their companies and offered viewpoints on future trends in their industries. Additionally, representatives from Regions Bank presented financial planning tips and information on paying for college.

A national organization, Youth Celebrates Diversity, hosted a panel of youth speakers from around the country who shared their experiences of organizing and advocating for social justice in their communities.

The event concluded with a keynote address by Eric Thomas , a world-renowned speaker, pastor, educator and author known for speaking to major league sports teams and Fortune 500 companies. Thomas gave words of motivation to the participants and offered a common sense, real world approach that brought energy to the final session and ended the event on a positive note.

Marianne Garrett, counselor at Winterboro School in Alpine, expressed appreciation for the virtual conference. “THANK YOU so much for allowing my 11th grade students to participate in such a powerful event this morning,” she wrote in an email. “I am so thankful during this pandemic you were able to virtually expose our students to such valuable, engaging and encouraging information, which will help in continuing to shape and mold their future.”

“The Youth Leadership Conference is always a highlight of our year,” said Crews. “The event gives us a chance to showcase workforce opportunities in our area and support our schools by providing a program that helps students plan for the future. We are thankful to our industry partners for their participation and we look forward to continuing to work with our schools on educational initiatives.”

This story via. AlabamaNews Center

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