By Kim Underwood Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
APRIL 24 – After talking with people at the county health department about their work this morning, Emily Beaty knows a bit about all sorts of public health issues – mosquito control, restaurant inspections, whooping cough, child nutrition and bedbugs.
“Never a dull moment,” said Linda Means, the communicable disease supervisor.
Beaty, who is a senior at Reagan High School, was one of about 50 Forsyth County high school students who joined leaders in business, government and nonprofit organizations today as they went about their workdays as part of the 28th annual Student Leadership Involvement Day for Education (SLIDE).
Beaty’s partner was Ayotunde Ademoyero, the Director of the Epidemiology Division of the Forsyth County Health Department. Ademoyero took Beaty on an informal tour of the department, introducing her to colleagues and inviting them to talk about their jobs. Ademoyero said she was happy to commit to participate in SLIDE.
“I think it’s a lot of fun to have a young person who has that excitement and idealism and wants to apply it,” Ademoyero said.
Beaty said it was an eye-opening experience. On her way to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill next year, she is thinking about a career that could combine her interest in health and in Spanish. When people at the health department learned that she speaks Spanish, more than one switched to Spanish.
“The Spanish bilingual thing really intrigued me,” Beaty said after the tour. “I feel like a learned a lot today.”
The day started with everyone gathering at the Old Salem Visitor’s Center for breakfast. Four seniors in the JROTC program at Carver High School – Aimeee Guzman, Asia Godfrey, Michael Musumeci, Robert Burnett – presented the colors and the Mount Tabor Spartanettes sang the national anthem.
What makes a good leader was the theme of attorney R. Michael Wells Sr.’s keynote speech. For Wells, leadership is about setting challenging goals and doing what you can to serve others. “Leadership is about sticking up for somebody who can’t stick up for themselves,” Wells said. “Leadership is about aiming high.”
Bryson Brewer, a senior at West Forsyth High School, was participating in the program for the second year. He wants to major in business administration when he goes to Wake Forest University next year. Spending the day last year with Gayle Anderson, the president and CEO of the Greater Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, taught him a lot about the work the chamber does.
“I believe the opportunity is something I couldn’t have gotten somewhere else,” Brewer said. This year, his partner was RoxAnne Jacot, a manager with Pepsi Bottling Ventures.
Treyuan Fulton, who is a senior at Parkland High School, was matched with Antony Farmer, the fire chief of Winston-Salem. Fulton decided to participate for the first time this year because he had heard good things about the program. “It’s a program that will enrich my leadership skills,” Fulton said. “I hope to learn to be a leader and how to be an effective citizen of the community.”
The opportunity to talk with students about what makes a good leader is why Bert Wood, the CEO of Partnership for a Drug Free NC, was spending the day with a student for the 20th time. “I think it’s a great experience,” Wood said.