As a rising ninth grader at Clarke Central High School in 2018, Tiffani Richardson’s goals included going to college and pursuing a career in the medical field.
Four years later, Richardson has her diploma and is preparing to enter Howard University in Washington, D.C., this fall.
She is one of 36 Clarke County School District students who completed Georgia Possible, a leadership development and college and career readiness program, in April.
“Attending Georgia Possible has meant a lot to me,” Richardson said. “It gave me great opportunities to build relationships and connections, learn from others and become an ambassador for the program and my school.”
“The communication skills I learned in Georgia Possible helped me be more open and comfortable talking in front of people.”
In addition to leadership, Georgia Possible prepares students for success in the classroom while also increasing their awareness of the variety of postsecondary options available beyond high school graduation.
“UGA is committed to strengthening our local community through partnerships that benefit Athens area students and public schools,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “I am proud of the work the J.W. Fanning Institute, the Clarke County School District and others are doing through Georgia Possible to broaden the skillsets and horizons of promising young individuals.”
Faculty at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach, led sessions on leadership skill development in areas such as effective communication, conflict and stress management and goal setting. Meanwhile, the students also explored post-secondary and career opportunities.
Everyone possesses leadership skills, and understanding how best to put them to use is a key part of the program, said Matt Bishop, Fanning Institute director.
“Communities and organizations are stronger when people understand their own strengths and weaknesses as a leader and can identify and bring out the leadership qualities in those around them to drive action,” Bishop said. “Georgia Possible helps students learn these skills, which will help them succeed in their communities and in their future workplaces.”
Cedar Shoals High School student Miles Camp said the program provided him with opportunities for growth.
“It helped me gain confidence and understand not only when I should step up as a leader but also when it is not my turn to lead in a particular situation,” he said.
The power and importance of teamwork was a major takeaway from Georgia Possible, said Yashar Harris, a Clarke Central High School student.
“Georgia Possible taught me how important it is to involve more voices and minds when trying to solve problems, because it will help you in decision making,” Harris said. “I also learned ways to build trust with others through the program.”
Georgia Possible has equipped these students with skills that will serve them well in the future, said Xernona Thomas, Clarke County School District superintendent.
“You have completed this program in the midst of some of the most challenging times we have seen,” Thomas told the students. “As a class, you have shown tremendous perseverance and succeeded in the midst of change. We are proud of what you accomplished and proud of what you will do.”
A second Georgia Possible class began in April. Those rising 10th graders will start meeting in the fall and continue in the program for three years through their senior year of high school.
“To our new students, you are embarking on a wonderful leadership journey,” Thomas said. “We thank the University of Georgia for their support of Clarke County School District students every day. UGA is an amazing partner.”
The new Georgia Possible class had an opportunity to meet those who were graduating, and Richardson had a message for the incoming students.
“Always believe in yourself,” she said.
Georgia Possible is the result of a collaborative effort across the UGA campus that includes the Office of the President, Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, Office of Community Relations and Office of Institutional Diversity, along with the Clarke County School District.