Project Discovery: Ramari

Ramari didn’t see the point of school. At the beginning of his high school career, he described it as “a scam” and “a drag.” Thanks to TAP, Project Discovery, and his mentor, Antonio Stovall, Ramari now realizes his potential and is on his way to a college education.

It’s All About Perspective

Without an understanding of how high school would help him in the real world, Ramari was regularly skipping class. When his sophomore year was interrupted due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it could have been a breaking point for Ramari. Instead, it led to a new perspective on education.

Ramari was enrolled in African American Culture and Contemporary Issues (AACCI), a class TAP offers at William Fleming High School. Despite the class being virtual, Ramari was inspired by the life lessons taught by instructor Antonio Stovall. “The class is 90% of why I grew as a person,” says Ramari. “He always told us that there is a higher purpose…he made me understand that I could be doing something great instead of wasting talent.”

Discovering a New Path

The support didn’t stop there. Antonio is also a mentor for TAP Project Discovery, and encouraged Ramari to participate. This program helps students prepare for college. It offers help with college applications, the financial aid process, college tours, and more.

Instantly, Ramari saw the genuine care that Project Discovery staff have for helping students. “It wasn’t a script with Mr. Stovall and Project Discovery,” says Ramari. “They were being honest and real and they let us know that they wanted the younger generations to be better than what they had growing up.”

Dear Mr. Stovall

Thanks to the things he learned and people he met through AACCI and Project Discovery, Ramari decided to buckle down and start planning for his future. In particular, Ramari credits Antonio with this change in trajectory. Not only did Antonio help Ramari academically, he also helped him build confidence and good habits like meditation and healthy eating.

During his last months of high school, Ramari decided to write a letter to Antonio thanking him for helping him realize his potential. Antonio didn’t just teach Ramari enduring lessons, but he’s also given him a lifelong mentor and friend.

A Bright Future

When asked how AACCI and Project Discovery helped him, Ramari has one answer: college. Ramari will be attending Norfolk State where he plans to major in fashion and marketing. He hopes to create his own clothing brand and later acquire his master’s.

Antonio couldn’t be prouder of Ramari’s growth. As he puts it: “I feel like the more he develops himself, he can make an impact on Roanoke City or wherever he goes in a very positive way.”

Find out more about TAP’s Youth Programs here.

Job Training: Forging a New Career

Katie received the job training she needed through TAP’s CareerForge Adult Education and Employment Program.

When the pandemic hit, Katie found herself unemployed after losing her job as a preschool teacher. She searched for new positions but had no luck. “I didn’t have a plan,” she says. “I moved to the area because I got this job.”

Then, Katie discovered our Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) training program in partnership with Dabney S. Lancaster. “At that point, neither my husband or myself were working, so I was looking forward to … any kind of benefits,” she recalls.

Katie explained that she had never imagined going back to school. She said, “I realized that this could be a bigger, better opportunity, and it could open up so many more doors.” After enrolling in the CNA course, Katie succeeded in taking on the phlebotomy course as well.

More Than Just Job Training

In addition to the hands-on training provided by these courses, Katie received the tools necessary to craft her resume and succeed in job interviews. She says, “especially if you’re not familiar with the medical field, [the programs] help you prepare.”

Passing the certification boards for both the CNA and phlebotomy programs were rewarding achievements for Katie. However, she says the most rewarding experience has been working with patients at the nursing home where she completed her clinicals.

A Bright Future

Katie has a bright future ahead of her. She says, “my big goal is to enroll in nursing school,” which would take place next fall. In fact, Katie knows that she will stand out in nursing school due to the experience she has gained in studying phlebotomy. In the meantime, Katie’s goal is to utilize her CNA certification by working in home health. Katie’s advice for others who would like to pursue these programs at TAP? “Don’t let fear hold you back. If you put your mind to it then you’re going to succeed.”