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A Year in Review: Top 10 Blogs of 2020

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Top Ten Blogs of 2020

If we are honest, 2020 was not the best year. Yet, despite the impact that COVID-19 has had on our lives, there are still a lot of positive things that the year has brought us, whether it is a personal accomplishment or milestone. With that in mind, let us celebrate another trip around the sun by reflecting on this year’s top 10 KzooConnect blog posts.

10. Finding the Entrepreneurial Spirit

We start our list with an article that focuses on three graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS) who embraced the entrepreneurial spirit and created their own businesses. Michael Bruny-Groth created an Adobe extension that expedites the logo preparation process, Imani Watson established a nonprofit that supports new mothers, and Mia Leibold began a career as a movement instructor and health and well-being coach.

9. Educated and Debt-Free

It is every young professional’s dream to be educated, debt-free, and in an enjoyable career field. Having used The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise), Tevin Monroe earned a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Science with a Minor in Public Health from Wayne State University without any debt! Today, he is pursuing a master’s degree at Merrimack College while also working as the Assistant Director of Campus and Community Engagement at Transylvania University.

8. Introducing Kalamazoo Public Schools’ New Superintendent

2020 was a big year of change for KPS’ administration. On June 1, the district welcomed Dr. Rita Riachoudhuri as the new superintendent. Raichoudhuri formerly served as the Executive Director of Early College & Career Education at Chicago Public Schools. During her tenure, she hopes to create an environment that promotes equity and allows students to pursue their goals.

7. Bronco by Day, DJ by Night, Kalamazoo Fan 24-7

The seventh spot on our list is still holding strong years after debuting! A “Jack of All Trades” would be a good way to describe Jayson Rose. In addition to being a passionate DJ, Rose also works in an administrative role at his alma mater, Western Michigan University. His career path is truly a testament to the strength of networking and education.

6. Shaping the Future of Flight

Having built a reputation as one of the top aviation programs in the country, WMU’s College of Aviation partners with the world’s top airlines to create a talent pipeline for future pilots. Thus far, both United Airlines and Delta Air Lines connected with the program. WMU’s aviation program is one of many fostering school-to-career opportunities in the Kalamazoo region.

5. MOM Series: A Steady Approach to Career Happiness

For Iris Barraza, the slow and steady approach really was the best way for her to find her dream job. As a young mom, she was forced to balance work and her education. Using The Promise, Barraza attended classes at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and WMU while working jobs at WSI and Beztak. Today, she is a part of the Talent Acquisition Team at the Kellogg Company and a proud mother of five.

4. Lift as You Climb

It is important to recognize those that helped us succeed. Kali Jackson embodies this attitude every day with the energy she puts into the world and the work she does as a Clinical Supervisor and Therapist for Wedgwood Christian Services in Grand Rapids. Eventually, she would like to earn her doctorate and potentially open a private practice.

3. Promise Team Spotlight - Jacob Waggoner

Jacob Waggoner originally worked for The Promise as an intern while earning his Bachelor of Business Administration at WMU. In 2019, he was hired as The Promise’s Scholar Relations and Alumni Coordinator where he fosters relationships with Promise Scholars who have found their path and discovers new ways to assist them in their journeys. He also assists with website development and coordination of this very blog!

2. Kalamazoo Native Prepares for Bucket List Show at the State Theatre

Our penultimate spot goes to another blast from the past. Back in October 2017, country songwriter and Kalamazoo native Ryan Hurd fulfilled a bucket list item by performing at the Kalamazoo State Theatre along with his wife, Maren Morris. Hopefully, the two of them can grace a stage near us safely soon!

1. Promise Team Spotlight: Janell “Nelly” Smith

This year’s list culminates with the Promise Team Spotlight on Janell “Nelly” Smith! A 2008 graduate of Loy Norrix High School, Smith was part of the third class to receive The Promise. Today, she works for The Promise as an associate administrator, using her familiarity with the community and know-how to help make a difference.

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