Experience and a paycheck - youth own both

Eight recent high school graduates from the tri-county area spent their summer earning work experience and a paycheck.
The teens from Barnwell, Bamberg and Allendale counties were part of the Summer Youth Work Experience, which is part of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program. After taking an employability study and learning proper workplace etiquette, the six-week program paired teens with an employer.
"It helps you know what to expect when you get a job," said Selena Bellinger, who worked at Southern Palmetto Hospital. "I learned to be very outspoken and ask questions."
"It gives them a little bit of information to see what a job is like and if that's the future they would like," said Melinda Hernandez, the site manager for Paxen Learning Corporation, the administrator of the WIA program through the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce/SC Works.
Bellinger said the program confirmed she wants to be a pediatrician. She plans to attend Claflin University and then transfer to medical school.
Tyechia Patterson said her experience at First to Learn Daycare of Williston also validated her desire to be a teacher, though she wants to work with older children instead. She plans to attend Aiken Technical College for two years before transferring to USC Aiken.
The other completers from Barnwell County were Dalton Barrett (Johnsons Farm and Garden of Williston) and Shateria Moody (Williston Town Hall). Also, Allendale County residents Brandon Jordan (Allendale Recreation Department) and Denzell Washington (Allendale Administrative Offices) completed the program, while Bamberg County residents Terrell Barnwell and Michael Dunbar worked with Phoenix Specialties.
Hernandez said the teens can cite the program on their resume to help gain future employment.
The WIA program, funded by the Lower Savannah Council of Governments, assists youth, adults and dislocated workers across the state by providing employment assistance and work experience.
Find out more about the WIA program by visiting the Barnwell SC Works office at 248 Wall Street on Mondays and Wednesdays at 2 p.m. or the Allendale and Bamberg offices on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m.