Student pathways to career success featured on ‘American Graduate Day 2017’ Oct. 14

WCNY, Central New York’s flagship public broadcaster, presents “American Graduate Day “ from 2 to 6 p.m. Oct. 14 on WCNY-TV. The program is hosted by Soledad O’Brien, and will highlight the inspiring individuals and organizations helping students graduate high school and look toward their next chapter, achieving career success

“American Graduate Day” features General and Mrs. Colin Powell, John Legend, Misty Copeland, Phil Mickelson, Bill Moyers, Daymond John, Juju Chang, Jane Pauley, Marcus Samuelsson and more

In collaboration with the national initiative, WCNY presents “Stories of Champions” video profiles.

Featured champions include:

Joe Horan, Syracuse City School District’s Building Men Program

Joe Horan founded the Syracuse City School District’s Building Men Program, designed to help boys learn about the challenges of becoming a man in today’s society. By teaching boys the importance of education, community service, and becoming “A” man not “The” man, the program has seen nearly 89 percent of the boys graduating from high school, well above the district’s graduate rate.

Renita Adams, Hillside mentor at Onondaga Community College

Renita Adams is a mentor making a big difference for students. As a Hillside mentor at Onondaga Community College, she helps Syracuse students living in generational poverty transition from high school to achieving success in college and expanding their access to employment opportunities. Adams says she can relate to these students because she used to be one of them. Adams also had a mentor in her life that pushed her to get through high school, community college, and Syracuse University.

Joe Vargo, Partners for Education and Business, Inc.

Joe Vargo is the executive director of Partners for Education and Business, Inc. operating under the umbrella of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, which represents over 300 businesses in 26 counties in Central New York. Joe engages students early and provides a meaningful education towards a career in manufacturing (become makers of things) or STEM fields (where much of America’s future employment needs are).” Through his work, Joe has brought thousands of students and hundreds of employers in this region together.

Learn more about WCNY’s champions, and view the video profiles at

Since 2012, the “American Graduate Day” broadcast has focused on telling stories, creating resources and building community connections to successfully move students from early education through high school graduation. With the graduation rate now at an all-time high, “American Graduate Day” is expanding the conversation and stories beyond the high school diploma, highlighting workforce trends, career pathways and job opportunities, and the necessary skills to meet industry needs in every community across America.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 6.2 million open jobs in critical, high-demand fields due in large part to an imbalance between workers’ skills and open jobs. National business organizations such as the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have noted that the United States is experiencing a workforce skills gap that is holding our economy back and threatening our economic future.

“American Graduate Day” affirms public media’s commitment to lifelong learning, beginning with our youngest citizens, getting them ready to learn, and putting them on a path to a high school diploma and career success,” said Patricia Harrison, President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

For the first time, American Graduate Day will examine post-secondary pathways to career success, spotlighting the individuals, organizations and community partnerships that equip young people with the skills and resources to enter the workforce from multiple pathways – ranging from traditional universities to

job training and certification programs, the military and apprenticeship programs.

“Sharing local stories of individuals and companies helping Central New York students achieve both academic and life success is a natural fit for WCNY,” said Debbie Stack, Sr. Director Education & Community Engagement. “Education is central to WCNY’s mission and to the life of our community, so we are proud to shine the spotlight on our American Graduate Champions!”

American Graduate Day is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as part of the public media initiative, American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen. Additional funding for American Graduate Day is from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Visit the American Graduate website for more details on participating PBS stations as well as other television and radio programs:

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