Return to Headlines

District High School Students Working Toward Ohio Means Jobs Readiness Seal

July 30, 2021 -- Five Columbus City Schools high school students had a paid internship this summer that allowed them to earn $4,000 tax-free. What’s more significant than the paycheck is the skills and long-term interest these students acquired from the internship. That’s priceless. 

“When I heard one of the students tell me that they are going to be a better student this fall because of this summer internship, I melted and knew I had done my job,” said Barbara Dunlap, American Electric Power’s Internship Coordinator. 

Dunlap oversees the “Opportunities iN Energy," or ONE, program that started in 2018. It’s a statewide program with the Ohio Department of Education, non-profit groups such as IMPACT Community Action, a Franklin County non-profit organization, and for-profit companies. The goal of the ONE program is to help high school students keep on track to earn the Ohio Means Jobs Readiness Seal on their high school diplomas. The seal indicates students have achieved professional skills verified through mentors. 

“This summer, I learned more about the value of integrity and the role integrity plays in the workforce,” said 16-year old Mamadou Sylla, a Columbus Alternative High School (CAHS) student. “I brought strong IT skills to the team and enjoyed working most with Human Resources writing professional emails.” 

Mamadou’s 18-year-old sister Diaka, also a CAHS student, was also selected for the AEP summer internship program. 

“I was really quiet at the beginning of the summer, and it helped to have my brother there, but as the summer went on, I came out of my shell,” said Diaka Sylla, who wants to go to college to become a medical doctor. “I am fascinated with human anatomy. I brought the importance of safety to the internship team and how it should never be compromised.” 

This summer, the nine area high school students were required to intern forty hours a week for eight weeks. Despite COVID health protocols, they worked in small groups, met with AEP employees and mentors, visited project sites, and completed tasks within a deadline. 

AEP reinforced professionalism and workplace etiquette every day of the internship. One student joked, “we were all told over and over again to put our cell phones down.” Another student shared, “if we answered yeah instead of yes, the intern with the most athleticism had to run as punishment.”

Ke’Aunya Stewart, an Eastmoor Academy student, said she learned “the importance of completing assignments right away; otherwise, you get behind.” 

Stewart’s mom said she is proud of her daughter and all she learned this summer. 

“She inspires me,” said Roshonda Price, Ke’Aunya Stewart’s mom. “I think it is so important for my daughter and these students to see how much support they have. The support will help them to be successful. That support makes such a difference.” 

Robert Bo Chilton, the CEO of IMPACT Community Action, couldn’t agree more. IMPACT’s mission is to fight poverty by providing hope-inspiring help and real opportunities for self-sufficiency. Chilton and his team got involved in the AEP high school summer internship program because one of IMPACT’s board members is on the executive leadership team at AEP. 

“The students give me hope for the future,” said Chilton. “By supporting these teenagers now and giving them the work-life skills to succeed, they will make our future better.” 

While the students have one more week of their AEP summer internship to complete, they did receive their paycheck today. The community business leaders hope the students, if eligible, will apply again and encourage their classmates to also apply for the AEP summer internship program next year. Interested students should ask their school counselor or internship coordinator for more information.

Congratulations to all the CCS students who successfully completed the AEP High School Program this summer: 

  • Ke’Aunya Stewart (Eastmoor Academy)
  • Isaac Adu (Independence High School)
  • Kamren Agee (Columbus Alternative High School)
  • Diaku Sylla (Columbus Alternative High School)
  • Mamadou Sylla (Columbus Alternative High School)