Concordia High School senior Ryah Klima was elected president of the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) national student organization – the JAG Career Association – by her peers at the organization’s National Career Development Conference held in Dallas last week.
Klima, who served as vice president of the Job’s for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ Career Association during the past school year, was elected through a rigorous process that included giving a speech to present her qualifications and vision for the student alliance. (Click to watch Klima’s speech)
“I was so nervous,” Klima said. “Everyone was being super positive and encouraging toward me, so that really helped with my nerves. But I still wasn’t sure that I was going to win. When I found out, it was a really surreal moment. I’ve never had a room full of people cheer for me the way that I did that night. It was amazing. I’m honored to have experienced it.”
Klima is the first person to hold this newly created position. While there have been state career associations, this is the first year of the national officer team. The officers will provide guidance, leadership, and motivation to all members in addition to serving as ambassadors to the student-led organization, and representing the views of all members.
The purpose of the National Career Association is to help members explore career pathways, to assess the opportunities and appropriateness of pursuing further education, to connect members with representatives of their chosen pathway, to develop their knowledge and skills, to secure employment in a job, and to demonstrate their ability to enter and advance with the employer.
“We are thrilled to have a JAG-K student elected as the first ever president of the National Career Association,” said JAG-K President and CEO Chuck Knapp. “Ryah has overcome a lot of adversity in her life, and she will be a fabulous representative for JAG-K and the entire Jobs for America’s Graduates network of affiliates.
“We join many people who have supported her throughout her journey, including her family, teachers, JAG-K career specialists and the Concordia community, in celebrating the excellent leader and outstanding person Ryah has become.”
Klima has been a participant in the JAG-K program at Concordia for six years. The junior has been a positive leader at the local and state level, said Concordia High School Career Specialist Leslie Girard.
“I could not be more proud of Ryah and her accomplishments,” said Girard. “Since meeting Ryah, I have known she has always had a passion for JAG. She will be the perfect President over the next year. I cannot wait to see what opportunities this brings her.”
“I decided to run because I always wanted to find a way to stick around in the JAG program,” Klima said. “This opportunity fell into my lap at the perfect time, and I am so thankful that I was able to run in the first place.
“I hope that as president I can accomplish many things, but most importantly, I want to empower the students. I want to lift their voices and let their stories be heard. JAG is already well known, but I want to help people see what it truly does for us students.”
JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades 6-12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally accredited, evidence-based model.
The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 40 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, John Deere, the Kansas Health Foundation, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Stormont Vail Health, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation and Walmart.
To learn more about JAG-K, visit www.jagkansas.org, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.