Students completed an application process to participate and 22 rising seniors were placed with businesses and organizations that fit their potential career interests. Areas in which students could choose to work from June 10-21 included medicine/health care; architecture/engineering; art; marketing/communication; finance; public service; education; law; real estate; entrepreneurship; hospitality; and technology.
This year, the program was expanded from one to two weeks and, in addition to alums, Collegiate parents were invited to serve as mentors.
The Alumni Office was thrilled to partner again with an amazing pool of alumni and current parents on Traiblaze, said Lauralee Glasgow Allen ‘03, Collegiate’s Director of Alumni Engagement, who helped coordinate the program.
“I am so grateful to these mentors who are making a huge impact on our students and the trajectory of their career paths,” she said.
Collegiate parent Dr. Anthony O’Sullivan and his wife, Dr. Heather O’Sullivan, are veterinarians at River City Veterinary Hospital. They are hosting rising senior Caitlin Long, who, as a child, used to pretend to be a vet and take care of her stuffed animals. At River City, she has observed surgeries, X-rays and ultrasounds.
“The first time I saw a surgery I was nervous,” she said. “But now I’m getting in there and asking questions.”
The experience has opened her eyes to all aspects of the field.
“I’m learning that being a vet combines dealing with people with a love for animals,” she said. “It’s like being a pediatric doctor for animals, who can’t talk.”
Dr. Anthony O’Sullivan has worked with Collegiate students since he began practicing in the Richmond area.
“I’m impressed with their drive and motivation,” he said.
He hopes Caitlin comes away with a firmer idea of the day-to-day life of their business and the time commitment involved in becoming a vet.
“It’s invaluable for students to get this kind of exposure,” he said. “It’s hard for them to get into veterinary school without experience, so if they are interested in the field, this gives them a heads-up and is good for their resumes.”
Meghan Hubbard ‘01, a lawyer at McGuireWoods, is showing Collegiate student Madison Flinchum all areas of big-firm life. Meeting with the McGuireWoods’ marketing and business development teams, visiting drug court, and learning the ins and outs of fiduciary litigation and estate and trust administration are just some of what Madison has experienced.
“I’ve been doing everything and going everywhere,” Madison said. “It’s been awesome.”
For her part, Meghan says she is glad to have volunteered for the Trailblaze program.
“I found the alumni network at Collegiate to be incredibly helpful after college and law school,” she said. “This is an opportunity to give back and be part of a great program.”
Scott Reed ‘92, founder of Prologue Systems, a laser scanning and building documentation firm, says he wanted to get involved in Trailblaze after reading about it in the fall 2018 issue of Spark.
“I immediately thought how it would have been very influential for me when I was a rising senior at Collegiate,” he said. “The concept of matching students who demonstrate a particular professional interest with a firm that puts those theories into practice is innovative, practical and worthwhile for everyone involved.”
He felt excited to teach rising senior Brady Spelbring the ins and outs of his business and maybe spark an interest in a technology career.
“Perhaps Brady’s time with Prologue may have some impact on where he decides to go to college, what subjects he pursues or what professional career he tracks,” Scott said. “In addition to being exposed to the technical side of our services, I expect to include Brady in the business side of operations, finance, accounting and daily management. I hope he will feel empowered to contribute to discussions on all matters of our company.”
Trina Clemans, Collegiate’s Director of Economic and Entrepreneurship Education, assisted with facilitating the program, which provides students the opportunity to experience the realities of the workplace with a mentor who is truly dedicated to the mission of the program.
“These experiences enable students to draw connections between their classroom learning and growth as contributing citizens, while nurturing their creativity and purpose,” she said. “The students walk away with a wide range of new understandings — chief among them a greater sense of direction as they make concrete decisions their senior year about post-Collegiate pathways.”