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We’re delighted to feature Stacia, a DeBruce Career Corps member and recent graduate from Schlagle High School. In this interview, she reflects on her educational journey, the work skills she has already developed along the way, and her plans for a career path of impact, representation, and caring for others.
What are your highest ranked Agilities – the work skills you’re best at and most enjoy doing – and how did you develop them?
My top three Agilities are Managing, Serving and Caring, and Selling and Communicating. I was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities in high school, and they gave me the chance to practice and explore my skills. My top Agilities show up in who I am and what I do on a day-to-day basis.
For example, I used my top Agility of Managing to keep track of all my activities and responsibilities at school, helping lead others to achieve goals – I was involved in Black Student Union, speech and debate, our LGBTQ+ community, auxiliary, robotics, I was baseball manager, and I was VP of student council!
Debate helped me develop my Agility of Selling & Communicating. I also used this Agility when I worked at Starbucks; I really enjoyed talking to customers and getting to know them as people. I genuinely wanted to show them that I care and want to make their day better.
I also got to use my Serving and Caring Agility when other students would ask me how to get involved in activities and clubs, and I would always give them advice and help them forward. I don’t try to be a leader, but the opportunity would arise and I knew I could help.
How does it help you to know your Agilities?
Knowing my Agilities helps me because, through them, I know the work skills I’m good at, but I also know my weaknesses. I like knowing my weaknesses because then I know what I need to work on to better myself. My lowest-ranked Agility is Organizing. But, my highest-ranked Agility is Managing. I know I’m not good at organizing things, but I am good at managing them. So, when DeBruce Career Corps gave us planners to use, I found ways to use my strongest combined with my weakest skills to help myself toward a better way to stay organized. I know it will help me in everything I do going forward!
How did the tools in the Graduation Toolkit help you?
After taking the Agile Work Profiler, I enjoyed doing Draw Your Future with Agilities. I think it would be helpful for other graduates too; You start by drawing where you are right now, but then you figure out where you want to go in the future and what it takes to get there. Whether the goals you’re working toward are about money, work, school, or anything else, it’ll help you take your next steps.
What are your next steps?
I’m actually leaving very soon this summer! I’m going to Arkansas University of Pine Bluff, where I’m going to be on the Golden Silks flag team. I want to be a thoracic surgeon – someone who works on the heart, lungs, and chest area – so I want to go into the biology program and then head to med school to learn my specialty.
How did you determine your career pathway?
When I was younger, I knew I wanted to be in the medical field. I enjoyed science, and I found dissections really interesting. I thought about being a veterinarian or pediatrician. My mom encouraged me to explore my career options as well as the scholarships and paths that could help me get there. I looked at everything from being an anesthesiologist, to being a doctor who helps women have babies after struggling with infertility, to then being a thoracic surgeon. And around that time at school, I did a dissection of a cow’s heart. Something clicked in my mind! I liked it, and I understood it, and here I am now pursuing my path to thoracic surgery.
Tell me about your network. Who is someone who has helped you in your career journey?
My mom! She’s been my biggest encouragement. She’s always pushed me to do better.
When I graduated from high school, I also graduated with my associate’s degree in Electrical Technology. I can always talk to her, ask her questions, and she’ll encourage me with advice like, “You can do it, just keep your mind and stay focused.”
What encouragement would you give to someone else graduating or trying to figure out their next steps?
If someone tells you you can’t achieve something, prove them wrong. Take discouraging words and turn them around as your encouragement. Work to get where you want to go.
During my freshman year at a different high school, I told my teacher my hopes of becoming a thoracic surgeon. They discouraged me from it because of the amount of school it would take, and they told me to look into other fields. I’m a person of color and yes, it is harder for us to get into certain industries; but, when people discouraged me from trying, I took it as my encouragement to work two times harder and prove them wrong. Same thing when I went for my associate’s degree – I was the only female in my class. Again, I felt like I had to work two times harder to prove that I could do it. I mean, just because I’m looking cute and have my nails done, doesn’t mean I can’t do what you guys are doing. Use other people’s doubt as your motivation.
How do you see yourself using your Agilities in your future career?
As a doctor, I’ll use Managing to lead my team and guide our plans to best care for my patients. I’ll also use Organizing for my surgery schedule. And, I’ll use a lot of Serving and Caring. Someday, I want to come back to my hometown and open a clinic to serve my community. Taking care of yourself is expensive! So, I want to open a clinic where people of color can see themselves represented, can create bonds, and they can get the care they need.
I also want to go back to schools and tell kids, “If I can do it, you can do it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And if they do, use it as your motivation.”