Monica Ingram was a part of the last graduating class to come out of Central High School in Flint. During her time there, she was in both TeenQuest and the Summer Youth Initiative (SYI). She was in SYI the year after she had started TeenQuest and was a student-teacher aid at a summer camp.
Her time in TeenQuest and SYI was deeply inspiring to her. A day of service held during SYI, which allowed students to volunteer with other organizations, planted the seeds for her to want to continue to work with the community and to keep paying things forward.
Since leaving high school, Ingram received her associate degree in business from Mott Community College and a bachelor of arts degree in marketing from Northwood University. She currently works for Sonitrol Great Lakes, a security company, and a typical day for her includes troubleshooting client issues, data programming, and customer care.
“I learned many things in TeenQuest that I still use today,” says Ingram. “For example, to always present your best self, to make a good impression in the first seven seconds you meet someone, to keep to a dress code, and to make good eye contact.”
In the future, Ingram hopes to start a nonprofit art mentoring program to bring fine arts opportunities to students who may need it and to keep paying forward what she got out of TeenQuest and SYI.
Do you have a memory or moment that stands out from the program?
I was very shy in school but getting in TeenQuest really helped me get out of my shell. I liked how I was able to meet different people my age from across the county, from different schools, and realize that we all have a lot of similarities. It gave me the experience I needed to branch out. I had a good mentor to push me. They didn’t push me too hard but just enough to get out there.
What advice can you offer current and former students of TeenQuest/Summer Youth Initiative?
For current students – it’s a great opportunity for you to spread your wings and to get work experience under your belt that you may not have otherwise been able to get. Soak up as much knowledge as you can. Enjoy it. It’s a time for work, but it’s a fun experience too.
For the former Summer Youth Initiative colleagues, I would say that just pay it forward. It definitely is rewarding when you’re able to give back to the next generation.
What is your proudest moment since graduating TeenQuest?
My proudest moment is that, ever since TeenQuest, I’ve always had a job. It was my very first real job, and it gave me the very first work experience and opportunity. Since TeenQuest I have always been able to find a job. It really helped me build up my resume and helped me in my career.