VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Editor's note: This story is a part of our "Making A Mark" series.
Two young adults chose different paths after high school, both with the help and support of the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Virginia.
Ndia Orr, who graduated from Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake in June, will be attending Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall.
She credits the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia with helping her prepare for the next chapter of her life.
"The Boys & Girls Club was definitely a stepping stone for my future," said Orr, who joined the Club on her 5th birthday.
Meanwhile, Calvin Watson, Jr., a 2022 graduate of I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, decided to start his career immediately.
"I'm already certified in welding," Watson said. "Now, I'm supposed to be leaving for the Merchant Seamen soon."
Watson agrees that his time at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia was instrumental in his success.
"They, like, [got] my focus on [what] I wanted to do, where I wanted to go," Watson said.
The Club's media coordinator Tyrell Scott says Calvin and Ndia are great examples of the dynamic youth that come through their Workforce Readiness programs.
diplomas2Degrees helps high school students prepare for graduation and post-secondary education through goal planning, mentorship, and assistance in securing financial aid.
"[We do] tutoring, homework help-- whether it's math, science, STEM-- just to find out what you need," Scott said.
The CareerLaunch program lets young people explore careers, gain employable skills, and gear up to join the workforce.
"We'll develop programs and try to just tend to your need and see what you want to do going forth with your career in that field," Scott said.
And the Keystone Club navigates it all, combining academic and career opportunities with community service. Young people also participate in leadership development.
"We work all year," Scott explained. "We do community service projects; we go in the community and volunteer."
The goal of these programs is to show young people that success comes in many forms, and that what they do today will shape their tomorrow.
"I was basically telling the kids, 'You don't have to go to college to be successful in life,'" said Watson, who now works with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Virginia.
"I am a predental biology major, minoring in Spanish," Orr said. "The Boys & Girls Club and their programs helped me figure out a way to even start."