Holmes County alumni give back with professional mentorship program

For students at Holmes County High School who want to get into engineering or computer science but don’t currently have adults in the field to guide them, a new mentorship program can help get them on the right career path.

The program is brand new and for students from the 8th grade all the way through college. It is an extension of the Wink Family Foundation established a couple of years ago, which gives STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) scholarships to HCHS seniors.

Scott Wink, who himself has moved away from Holmes County, said he realized there is a diverse mix of professionals he’s networked with who have also moved away and established prominent careers.

The program’s website is Among the first wave of mentors are Class of 1991 graduate and Thresher CorporationCEO/Founder Jamie Jernigan, Class of 1994 graduate and University of Florida Senior Lecturer Becky “Rich” Raulerson, and Class of 1996 graduate and attorney Jami McFatter Kimbrell.

Mentors can help proteges pick the right classes and network to land their first professional job, Wink said.

“They would love to give back from afar,” Wink said.

He called the launch of this mentorship initiative “exciting” and “scary.”

While program participants have informed the schools about this opportunity, Wink said the bulk of outreach regarding the initiative is expected to be done with academic clubs the Wink Family Foundation already works with.

“That will be a better venue to find the right kids,” he said.

Kids can get as much out of working with a mentor as they want to, according to Wink. Conversations with 8th and 9th grade students will be more tailored to getting them used to talking to adults and having professional conversations, while working with college graduates will be more about teaching them how to use a platform like LinkedIn to help secure their first career position.

The number of students allowed in the program will be capped since the mentors are busy, Wink said.

The program will find and add additional mentors as needed, with a list of prospective additional mentors on hand. 

Parents are also welcome to be actively involved in the program’s conversations and getting the kids thinking about and acting on professional ambitions.

“Reach out if you think this will be good for your kid,” Wink said.

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