April 27th, 2017
Last night Nextech celebrated the graduation of our first cohort of Catapults. 16 amazing young men and women were surrounded by a sea of cheerleaders, including their friends and family members, tech professionals who passionately volunteered their time with these students and philanthropic organizations who invested the financial resources to make the Catapult experience possible.
Many times throughout the evening, and still yet today, I found myself reflecting on the last 10 months. My thoughts weren’t about the many experiences the students participated in or the aspects of the program that could be improved upon; those “facts” have already been well documented for purposes of reporting and process improvement. Instead, I thought of all the intangibles of what Catapult is.
During one of our last reflection sessions with the students, we asked them to describe Catapult in just one word. Here is the list we got back:
- Thought provoking
Had you asked me to predict this list last year, never would I have come up with these words. My focus would have been on words like challenging, grueling, informative, etc… Not one of the students focused on the technical aspects of the program; few even hinted at the impact relative to future job opportunities. I thought the goal of Catapult was to increase the number of high school graduates that pursue a postsecondary career in technology; the students showed me it’s about so much more! It’s about personal growth. It’s about relationships. It’s about self-discovery. At least according to the students.
Catapult is helping a person grow.
Catapult has really helped me talk to people more. Normally I am very quiet and I don’t like talking to a bunch of people. It’s made me more social.
The Catapult program has really made everyone who joined connected with each other.
It taught me how to work with other people.
With Catapult I’ve gotten a better understanding of myself.
Catapult is life changing. Catapult has made a huge difference in my life. I was so excited for it and it did exceed my expectations. I just loved everything about it.
Catapult helped me grow and come out of my shell more.
The Catapult program actually helped me not be afraid of challenges. It taught me I could accomplish task after task after task.
Catapult helped me to understand other people, to understand their point of views matter, that their thought process matter, that their opinions matter and them as individuals should also have the opportunity to be the leader, to be as equal as I am in my group.
Catapult is a great place to learn who you are who you want to be.
P.S. For those who are fueled by numbers, here are the final hours we invested in our students:
- 2,448 hours Technical Skills Instruction
- 564 hours of Industry Engagement
- 462 hours of Community & Civic Engagement
- 101 hours of College & Career Readiness
- 77 hours of Team Building
Based on the above words, I’d say we more than got a return on that investment!