Education is important no matter what you do. It makes you feel secure, independent, and confident in yourself. . . So, if it starts at the basic level . . . a lot will change. –Kriti Sanon
For schools to engage in constructive conversations about education that empowers and inspires its students, the dialogue must remain student-centered. When Birmingham native, Emily Burt, applied for a Program Specialist position at the Birmingham Education Foundation through AmeriCorps State, she discovered that the role not only aligned with her graduate studies in School Counseling, but also revealed the organization’s dedication to keeping students at the forefront of discussion. As Program Specialist, Burt delivered the College and Career Preparation Curriculum, and enjoyed serving in this capacity so much that she applied for a full-time position.
Now, as Ed’s Work Local Manager, Burt directs the Executive Internship Program for seniors in Birmingham City Schools’ 11 career academies, placing students with local partners in their desired career field, such as engineering, health science, business/finance, hospitality, IT, or visual communications. Last spring, the May Match campaign raised funding for 55 internships—Vulcan Materials Company matching every single donation—thus providing 55 students with the opportunity to receive a paid executive internship and gain professional experience in a field that interests them.
Burt also works to support Ed’s Program Team, overseeing site visits and job shadowing. Organized by grade, these programs provide students with more knowledge about the fields they’re curious about: site visits take freshmen and sophomores on field trips to visit various companies and locations, and job shadowing sends juniors and seniors to different businesses and organizations based on their stated interests. Behind the scenes, Burt coordinates the locations, time, availability, capacity, and transportation that allows for these firsthand experiences to take place.
As Burt continues to serve in her role as Work Local Manager while pursuing a master’s degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, she finds that the most rewarding part of her job is cultivating relationships with students. When she first came to Ed as a Program Specialist, teaching in-school sessions gave her intentional, quality time with students, allowing them to form connections. For those interested in investing in Birmingham City students and their future, especially those desiring to connect students with people in the community who have resources, Ed always welcomes more partners. Ultimately, as Work Local Manager, Burt hopes to continue Ed’s work to improve Birmingham inner-city school systems so that through education, more students feel confident and secure in pursuing their aspirations after high school.