CPP Career Center, I-Poly & Target Celebrate Third Year of TUFIN Program

CPP Career Center, I-Poly & Target Celebrate Third Year of TUFIN Program
Manuel Perez, director of the Cal Poly Pomona Career Center, presents Tamisha Lynch, Target store team leader in Montclair, with an award in the University Theatre for her participation in the I-Poly TUFIN program.

For many high school students, filling out lengthy job applications and sitting through sweaty-palmed interviews for the first time can be both overwhelming and intimidating. Just trying to choose the right type of job or company to work at can be a daunting task.

That?s why the Cal Poly Pomona Career Center offers International Polytechnic High School (I-Poly) students the opportunity to enroll in a career exploration elective course.

Through Targeting Underrepresented Families in Need (TUFIN), students are exposed to various career paths and administered career assessment tests, as well as taught interviewing techniques and how to fill out job applications.

?With our career counseling staff ? under the direction of TUFIN instructor Jeanie Jang ? leading the way and providing their expertise, these students leave at the end of their academic year with an awesome awareness of the diverse opportunities available to them,? said Penni Sweetenburg-Lee, associate director of the Career Center. ?If this kind of program was afforded to me during my high school years, I wonder how much further along I would be!?

TUFIN, a joint project between the Career Center, I-Poly and Target Corp., originally began three years ago with a $20,000 grant from Target to expose minority students to career exploration. However, the program has evolved and now serves all ninth grade students from I-Poly regardless of race or economic status.

According to Sweetenburg-Lee, without Target?s generous grant TUFIN would not exist.

?This is the first collaborative Target has had with a college and high school to come up with a grant,? said Linda Roebuck, Target store team leader in Fontana and college recruiter. ?We began giving corporate grants to other colleges two years ago, but this is where it started.?

About 140 I-Poly ninth graders, along with representatives from Target and the Career Center, kicked off the third year of TUFIN on Sept. 27 in the University Theatre.
Melissa Cornejo, an I-Poly sophomore and former TUFIN participant, shared with those in attendance her experience in the program.

?We took field trips to Target ? and we took tests that would tell want you?re best at,? she said. ?I really liked it a lot and I think you would too because it really helped me find out more about careers.?

Sweetenburg-Lee gave a motivational keynote address, reminding students to never give up, even when faced with adversity. She shared her own story of poverty as a young child, having to deal with both her parents? deaths at the age of 6, and her personal fight with cancer later in life. She began her talk by reciting a poem, ?Mother to Son? by Langston Hughes:

?Well, sons and daughters, I?ll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boys and girls, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now —
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.?