UI students seek to help teen parents


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City High senior Rolanda Lee wanted to learn how to get a job, dress for work, and make a résumé.

City High junior Erica Roberts wanted to learn how to further her education.

And both wanted to learn how to do it while caring for their infant daughters.

They, along with around 20 other teen parents attended an educational event Tuesday hosted by the University of Iowa’s Career Leadership Academy and United Action for Youth.

Officials planned the event as part of the Career Leadership Academy course.

“I’m confused about college,” Roberts said, holding her smiling baby. “I want to figure it all out for my daughter.”

Organizers hoped roughly 15 teen parents could attend, but by 5 p.m., the room began to fill.

“It’s really interesting; I’m really enjoying it,” Lee said.

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The parents appeared excited about the dinner and the door prizes — restaurant gift certificates, children’s toys, and store giftcards. The kids were excited about the toys.

The event was intended to help teen parents learn about job opportunities and answer any job-related questions.

UI junior Owen Sessions, one of the student organizers, said he was pleased with the turnout and thought the class had done well with the planning.

“People [who] I’ve talked to seem really receptive and interested,” he said.

The overall goal was to get the teen parents involved and keep them focused on their careers and education, said UI sophomore Alex Schuck, another organizer.

“We decided to help teen parents at [United Action for Youth],” he said. “We wanted to help them get their career-building skills up, learn how to dress for success, and talk to representatives from UI and Kirkwood to further their education.”

In the four-semester class, students learn about themselves, leadership, group dynamics, and what to expect in the career world, said Stacy Narcotta-Welp, an assistant director of the Career Leadership Academy.

In the third semester of the course, students talk to a community organization and find out what they feel is most necessary to better the community.

“The class felt that the [United Action for Youth] teen parents program was underfunded and doesn’t get enough attention, so it was an opportunity for us to help out and make a difference,” said Jodi Linley, an instructor in the course.

State Farm Insurance grants the Career Leadership Academy with money to hold these events, and each group receives a maximum of $1,000, said Angi McKie, director of marketing and public relations for the Career Center.

The money is used for supplies, catering food to the event, and the prizes given to those who attended.

Not only were the students proud of their work, so was the United Action for Youth staff.

“They were really productive and have done a great job of meeting everyone’s needs,” said Lynett Jacoby, a program coordinator for United Action for Youth. “I’m really excited and impressed with the turnout we had here tonight.”

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