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By: Lacie Kunselman, Class of 2019 & Diploma Endorsement Student//MDS Musings Blog

Lacie Kunselman, Class of 2019

The Diploma Endorsement program is a program for motivated students who want to gain real-life career experience while still in high-school.  It’s a unique opportunity to learn work-related skills and personalize your high-school curriculum to support your passions.

As a freshman, I remember my friends filling out applications for the program and encouraging me to sign-up, but I was unsure.  The program was new and seemed like something for people who knew exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up.  I most definitely did not. I decided to go for it, and after much deliberation, I selected Global Studies with Mercy in Action aspects as my focus area.  I always wanted to minor in Spanish, and I thought I could increase my knowledge of the language while helping others.

The program began with a cohort from the class of 2019 and now contains 26 juniors and 25 sophomores.  The program is designed to be self-directed and I have learned that motivation and hard work will go a long way to help me achieve my goals. For those of us who have accepted the challenge, we are continually rewarded for the work we put in.

As I explored my future in the class and grew and changed throughout high school, my focus shifted as well.  I realized I loved revising papers and had an eye for grammatical mistakes.  I changed my focus to the humanities and pursued experiences in journalism and editing. Last semester, I took an online journalism course from Coursera which was taught by Michigan State University professors.  This semester, I work as the publications intern in the advancement office, writing and editing for The de Sales Sheet.

Throughout the program, we have participated in many activities and events which allow us to move beyond the classroom and learn by doing.  Last year, a panel of successful alumni and local community members led a discussion on what they have learned in the “real” world as professionals.  We then practiced interview skills and professional behavior by eating lunch with the guests.  Rather than simply learn etiquette, handshakes, and other professionals skills, we practiced them in real-life situations.

Other activities included team bonding, a low-ropes course, and various team challenges.  This year, we also have a lot on the agenda.  In February, we will visit Macon’s situation room where you have to use teamwork and logic to solve challenges.  In March, we will participate in a high-ropes course, and in April we will take part in an entrepreneurial challenge to create our own businesses. It’s bound to be a very busy but very rewarding semester.

As a member of the first class to participate in the Diploma Endorsement Program, our cohort has helped shaped the program in a unique way. The program has taught me to seize every opportunity you get. The Diploma Endorsement program allows students to grow, make mistakes, and figure out who we are and what we want to achieve.  We’re encouraged to not allow our age to limit us, to seek out opportunities and make them if we don’t find any, to be a leader in our community, and to work for what we want.

For more information about the MDS Diploma Endorsement Program, visit the MDS website.