Whether it was changing a tire or putting on a tie, learning about SMART goals or being smart about personal health, 35 boys from the Tennessee Children’s Home Spring Hill campus were introduced to plenty of valuable personal and professional skills at the Lipscomb College of Business Skills Development Day on Friday.
College of Business students, faculty and staff joined with alumni and professionals from local businesses such as Fortified Health Security, MiTech Partners, Thrivent, Jackson Street Church of Christ and Pivot Tech School to present an array of career and life skills for the boys, age 13-18, of the Tennessee Children’s Home.
Dr. Natasha Johnson, assistant professor in the College of Business, spearheaded the day, a new Lipscomb-sponsored version of an event that her company, The Beignet Bar, held at the Tennessee Children’s Home campus in 2019.
“The Beignet Bar sponsored a skills development day event for this organization that is very near and dear to my heart,” said Johnson, who became familiar with Tennessee Children’s Home as a child through the ministers at her church congregation. She has personally volunteered at the home and wanted to support the children by bringing “her village to their village.”
The college took on sponsorship of the event this year and the business students and faculty turned out in force to man interactive learning stations where the boys learned about time management, interviewing for jobs, money management, cyber security and graphic design.
Student Alexa Clancy showed the boys how she is learning to turn her interests into a future career in graphic design, showing off logos she had created in Illustrator.
Student Sutton McGehee demonstrated his foolproof method for removing a flat tire and gave all the boys a try.
Each boy also received a complimentary collection of business attire including a basic dress shirt, flannel dress shirt, sweater vest, dress shoes, dress socks, undershirts, and everyday tie, a silk tie, cufflinks and tie bar, which were donated by the JFAM Foundation, The Kindred Exchange and The Beignet Bar.
Alumnus Waymon Winfree (’17, ’18) of Symmetry Financial Group, and Dr. Mark Jobe, associate professor in accounting, helped each boy try on some of their new clothes, showed them how to tie the necktie and make it the appropriate length, and introduced them to the purpose of cufflinks.
Johnson said she was intentional about inviting businesspeople who would serve as strong male role models for the boys attending the event, including men like Julian Flournoy, a vice president at Fifth Third Bank, and Garrett Dickerson (’08, ’10), market director at Thrivant, who both provided money management tips to the boys such as the importance of establishing credit, saving as early as possible and how to use a bank’s digital tools.
Chris Doughtie (’04), the director of development and community education at the Tennessee Children’s Home, said the Skills Development Day opened the eyes of the boys to the possibilities for their futures.
“Just getting off-campus and having college experience is really valuable,” said Doughtie. “A lot of these kids think they can’t do college, so it is encouraging. These kids are really enjoying learning about these different skills and interacting with these successful business owners.”
One of the boys said the Skills Development Day did help him know what he wants to do in his future career. “I know I want to help people with families who are having a hard time. I know what that is like, and I know that it is no fun,” he said.
The JFAM Foundation, founded by Cyntoia Brown Long (’19), Lipscomb assistant director of business as mission; Fortified Health Systems; Johnson’s The Beignet Bar; and Kindred Exchange, founded by Lipscomb professor Dr. Lauren Pinkston and alumna Abby Littlefield (‘20); were also sponsors of the event.
Each participating company or organization brought give-aways for the boys as well as their sound advice. Bill McCleskey of MiTech Partners explained how any job, even one you don’t like, can help you learn skills to apply as an entrepreneur. Nathan Burton (’16) of Pinnacle Bank introduced boys to the concept of SMART goals: goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. The Metro Police Department sent Commander Rickey Bearden and Officer James Wells to speak with the boys.
After the learning stations, the boys—some of whom had never thought about going to college—ate lunch in the Lipscomb dining hall and went on a tour of the Lipscomb campus.