Calhoun County High School graduate Keymo Walker recently became one of two students from South Carolina and 15 nationwide to be named a Jobs for America Graduate Smith Scholar.
Walker successfully completed the four-year program that targets students at risk of dropping out of school. He plans to attend Winthrop University in the fall, where he will study social work with a focus on domestic violence.
Walker said he wants to return to serve in his community after he completes his higher education.
“I always understand and live my life for the better of everyone in my community, not just for myself,” he said.
Job Specialist Geraldine Sackiel, who heads the Calhoun High JAG program, remembers Keymo as a “very shy but very bright and intelligent ninth grader. He had leadership skills, but needed motivation,” she said.
Sackiel worked to motivate Walker, she said.
During the past four years, Walker has become a “leader who motivates his peers into doing things they would never do without encouragement,” she said.
He has also developed self confidence, according to Sackiel.
Walker says his strengths include kindness, helping others and the ability to solve problems and make decisions. He said his weakness is speaking before large audiences.
Sackiel said that weakness has given Walker an empathy that enables him to encourage others.
For example, there was one young lady in the ninth grade who was afraid to take part in class, but Keymo was able to get her to get up and read a simple paragraph out loud, Sackiel said.
Since he entered the JAG program in the ninth grade, Walker has become not just a leader at Calhoun High, but in the South Carolina National JAG program.
He’s served as president of the Career Association twice and as a state delegate to the national association in Washington for two terms.
As a JAG scholar, Walker received a $2,000 scholarship.
The South Carolina JAG program is coordinated by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. Under the direction of a career specialist at each school, students work on skills identified by businesses as essential to successful employment.
This is the first time a South Carolina student has been named a JAG Smith Scholar since the organization was created in 2005.
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