MICHIGAN CITY — Ever wonder what happened to so-and-so after they graduated from Michigan City High School?
An inspirational new campaign spearheaded by Dannon Martin, a 2005 MCHS graduate, who will graduate in December with a master's in medical science physician assistant studies from Atlanta's Emory University. She took part in the "City You Got This" success video campaign through the MCHS guidance office the MCHS guidance office offers the answers to such questions through the success stories of MCHS graduates.
"City You Got This" was the brainchild of Guidance Counselor Theresa Galloway, who'd always loved the idea of motivating the current student body with short videotaped segments of former students who have left MCHS and are living successful careers.
The idea materialized when Counseling Intern Aaron Garrett, a MCHS 2005 graduate, came on board. Garrett previously taught theater at Elston Middle School and will finish a master's degree in May in education and human services and counseling with a concentration in school counseling.
In the brief 20 to 30 second videos, the participants state the year they graduated from MCHS, where they went from there, what they are currently doing, possibly a tip or two and end with "City You Got This."
At first, the plan was for about 15 videos with a few airing each day during College Go! Week at the end of September. But with the success of the program, one airs every "Throwback Thursday" during morning announcements, and Galloway hopes they can continue producing and airing them all year.
"It's been great. The kids have really been paying attention to them," Galloway said.
"The kids love them and will say, ‘I remember hearing about this person, but didn't realize what they're doing,'" Garrett said. "Some of the kids are realizing, ‘I can do exactly what they're doing. It just takes a little work.'"
"Sometimes the community only hears the negative, but we are thriving under the current leadership," Garrett said. "We are definitely college and career ready. I'm a big fan of pushing positivity in our schools."
Participants have come from a variety of backgrounds and not all are college graduates. These have included a firefighter, accountant, teacher, pilot, professional basketball player, nurse and NASA employee.
Lauren Silcox, a 2005 MCHS graduate, decided college wasn't for her after one semester in the journalism program at Ball State University.
She came back home and earned a license in cosmetology from Don Roberts Beauty School in Valparaiso after 13 months. She then worked at a few salons before opening up her own business, The Parlor in Michigan City, with friend Betsy Tucker five years ago.
Silcox said she especially appreciates how City You Got This includes examples of graduates with different levels of education because "whether you decided to go to college, trade school or a different route, you can be successful as long as you set your mind to it."
"I'm hoping this project helps high school students realize that you can do what you put your mind to. As cliché as that sounds, it holds so much truth" Silcox said. "You don't have to graduate the top of your class to be successful after high school. You just have to try. All it takes is a motivated mind and a whole lot of heart. You have to be willing to fail at times. We have all failed at something. That's what I hope the students get out of this project. You're going to fall, you're going to fail but you are definitely capable. So get out in the world and do something great."
She said if she could give one piece of advice to MCHS students it would be, "to really get to know yourself before you make any major life choices. Listen to yourself and get to know who you are. Choose something that will make you happy because life is short and if we have to go to work everyday, shouldn't we at least enjoy it? Once you enjoy what you're doing, wait and see how wonderful you are at it."
Dannon Martin graduated from MCHS in 2005, received her bachelor's degree in biology from Stillman College and her master in public health at Morehouse School of Medicine, both in Atlanta. On Dec. 19, she will graduate from Atlanta's Emory University with a master's in medical science physician assistant studies.
Martin said City You Got This is especially important in light of the dropout rate at MCHS, and that MCHS students, like all high school students, have limited exposure to the outside world.
"This gives them another perspective," she said. "It allows them to put a face to a name of a successful graduate. By taking the time out to do this, we are proving we are willing to be mentors and guide them in the right direction."
MCHS 2004 graduate Dr. David Weber, who is a dentist in the area, said, "I would encourage future grads to do hard things. The most valuable endeavors in life take great effort, but produce the most joy."
"I think the project is worthwhile because it's important to take pride in your community," Weber went on. "I hope it is encouraging to current students that MCHS has many proud alumni."