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Friday, July 19, 2013

First Lady Michelle Obama Praises Chicago's South Side Youth

Chicago Based Internship Program Changes Lives of Youth

First Lady Michelle Obama is as passionate about the future of America's youth, as she is about the future of her own two daughters, Sasha and Malia.
 
You can hear that passion each time she speaks to young people about overcoming personal circumstances and embracing possibilities and opportunities to obtain a brighter future. 


Speaking with graduates of the Urban Alliance program of Chicago
 Mrs. Obama shows her passion for youth education (and her shapely legs).
That passion could be felt yesterday as she spoke in Chicago to a group of students of Urban Alliance, a year-long career education and employment program for under served high school seniors.  UA enriches students’ lives through paid internships, formal training, and mentoring.

Chicago, along with other major U.S. cities has been severely plagued by youth gun violence, violence that in one weekend alone this summer, killed nearly 70 youth.
 
Said the first lady, "So, this is a very special program.  And I wanted to be here because I want all the business leaders and community leaders around the country to understand that this is part of the answer.  Programs like these are the answer in so many ways to stemming the tide of violence for kids in so many communities, giving them an opportunity to envision a world outside of gang banging and hanging on the streets, dropping out.  You have to be able to envision a different life for yourself, right, to know what’s out there, to know what’s going on downtown in order to know what you want to work for."
 
The first lady praised the program, completing its year-long session, for their efforts and said that the Chicago chapter is the blueprint for other programs across the country.
 
"You all are the models for what we could see in cities all across this nation", Mrs. Obama added.
 
UA is the brain child Amy Rule, the wife of Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel, both present for the event.  The organization is now seeking partners in the Northern Virginia area to assist with their mission.
 
If you would like to participate please visit http://www.theurbanalliance.org/.

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Stephen Oneal, III, a Walgreens Intern, Shares How UA Changed His Life
 

MR. O’NEILL:  "... where I come from, a lot of Black men are looked down upon as we won’t make it in life; all we want to do is run the streets and sell drugs.  Well, that is completely wrong.  I’m proud to say that I graduated on time from Percy L. Julian High School.
 
 During my internship at the Walgreens Corporation, through the Urban Alliance program, I’ve learned many, many very important things.  The first thing that I learned was how to dress myself professionally.  Someone -- okay, a lot of people say not to judge a book by its cover, but as I walk through this room dressed as a young business African American professional, I was treated and respected as one. 
 
The second thing that I learned was punctuality.  Someone who is not on time is not dependable, and someone who is not dependable is otherwise expendable, because time and presentations wait for no one. 
 
The third thing that I learned was communication.  Someone who is honestly sick can lose out on a good job and great career opportunities just because they didn’t inform their superiors that they were sick. 
 
During my school year, I had the pleasure of working from 2:00 to 5:00, making $8.25 an hour, working four days a week.  But now, I’m proud to say through blood, sweat and tears and performance evaluations, I’m now making $10 an hour working from 9:00 to 5:00, four days a week. 
 
Before the Urban Alliance program, I didn’t have any plans to go to college or I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in life.  But now, I’m proud to say that I will be attending Malcolm X College to be certified as an emergency medical technician so that I can become a firefighter.   The two things that encouraged me to become a firefighter is, one, I want to be able to support my family, and two, I wanted to choose a career where I knew that my son would be proud of his father for going into it.
 
Before the Urban Alliance program came into my life, I really didn’t know what I was going to do, though.  I’ve seen a lot of kids go down a different route.  Living in this city and the bad neighborhoods that we all live in, it’s hard to keep our minds focused on the good things.  That’s why I thank God for the Urban Alliance program and my program coordinator, Ricardo Hernandez, and my mentor at the Walgreens Corporation, Samantha Ogborn, because those two people have instilled in me that only through education can I attain my future, and that I can always do better than even my best. 
 
I thank God for the program and these people because without them, I don’t believe that I would be the man that I am before you, and I believe what they’ve done for me, they can do for anyone in this nation."
 

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