The theme of the recent My Next Move graduation was “The Best Is Yet to Come!” This optimism and adventurousness certainly characterizes Braijene Fletcher, one of nine new graduates of the program, which helps young people increase their confidence and skills to achieve their career and educational goals.
Braijene, 17, is a senior at Detroit School of Arts. She intends to start college at Wayne State University next fall. Then, after two years, she wants to study in Korea. She’s been teaching herself Korean through online videos.
“I feel more prepared for college and my future because of My Next Move,” Braijene said. “I have a lot of goals! I want to be an actress, a dancer, an author and a business owner. I feel if I work hard I will achieve what I want to do in life, and My Next Move emphasizes this, too.”
My Next Move teaches about career development, job readiness, life and leadership skills, and financial literacy. It also provides tutoring in math, reading and GED preparation, as needed. Classes meet three evenings a week for six months, and participants receive a stipend. The program serves youth 15-21 years old who live in southwest Detroit. Students 18 and older are offered the opportunity to transition to job training programs, if they are interested in that option.
The recent cohort was the second one to complete the program. The cohort started with in-person classes in February, and then went to virtual classes after the Covid crisis began. The graduation celebration also took place virtually.
In addition to Braijene, the graduating class consisted of:
- Azalie Braggs
- Taylor Colbert
- Chela Martinez
- Mohamad Ouza
- Dame Peak
- Darian Shannon
- Zyona Talley
- Gregorio Moreno
“The program was a great learning experience and a lot of fun, too,” said Azalie. One of her My Next Move goals is to start an Etsy business.
Taylor’s Next Move is to get good grades in school this year and then start a career working with cars. Chela’s is to complete her GED. Mohamad aspires to attend business school. Dame aims to get his driver’s license and his own apartment. Darian wants to give back to his community as a basketball coach and mentor, and to graduate from school. Zyona intends to graduate from high school and then play college basketball. Gregorio was unable to attend the virtual graduation because he is realizing his goals of getting a full-time job and starting basic training for the National Guard.
“Every one of the participants in My Next Move made good progress on their personal goals,” said Lilith Solomon, Youth Peer Support Specialist, at the graduation. “Each has overcome adversity, and we celebrate their success!”
Cieara Edwards, Program Coordinator, served as emcee for the graduation. My Next Move is overseen by Gwenneth Marshall and Marquita Felder at our Children, Youth and Families division. The program is a collaboration between Southwest Counseling Solutions and Southwest Economic Solutions. It is sponsored by Bridgeway Services.