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McDonough County CEO Students Reflect on Experience

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Dylan Smith
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Students Bryce Lester of Macomb High School, Devin Suggitt of Bushnell-Prairie City High School, and Laine Torrance of Macomb High School meet with CEO Program Facilitator Christi Steelman.

Brain juices flowing, faces smiling, and conversation filled with ambition. The McDonough County CEO program said it gives high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to gain real-life business experience that cannot be taught in a classroom.

CEO is designed to teach students the many avenues of the business world while building upon personal skills.

McDonough County CEO students said the experience has provided them with the opportunity to acquire skills such as team work, leadership, and personal growth.

“I’m one of those students that learns a lot better with first-hand experience, and I knew that joining CEO I was definitely going to get a lot of that.,” said Macomb High School senior Grace Murphy.

“Being able to develop our own businesses and speaking with professionals in the community that are actually doing jobs and not just sitting in a traditional classroom and learning about it is my favorite part of CEO.”

Students say that they were guided through the many challenges that the CEO program presented, allowing them to experience short-lived failure while still being able to learn from such hardships.  

Macomb High School senior Bryce Lester said, “This class will give you challenges that make you think ‘Oh I can’t do this, this is impossible’ and then they give you the tools to do them, overcome them and show this is possible, that you can do this.” 

Program organizers said high-school sophomores and juniors are selected based on a blind application process in which up to 20 students can be selected. They said they seek students who are creative, hardworking visionaries who have an ambition to learn the tools for future success.  

Throughout the school year, CEO students participate in focus groups, give presentations, and meet with mentors who aid in the process of building relationships with the business community. 

The Class of 2021 will wrap up in early May by presenting their new business to the community at a Trade Show event.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.