Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC (Bendix), in collaboration with Effective Leadership Academy (ELA) – a leading Northeast Ohio-based educational nonprofit – welcomed 18 Lorain County high school students to its new North American headquarters for an event highlighting opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) and manufacturing.
During the Nov. 10 visit, the high school juniors and seniors focused on the promise offered by careers in those fields and the paths for pursuing them professionally.
The ELA team provided leadership curriculum for the first part of the program, followed by a panel discussion featuring Bendix professionals sharing their stories and answering questions. Students then toured the building, including the state-of-the-art lab facilities. The Bendix campus is home to 650 employees who oversee research, development, engineering, testing, administration, and marketing for the company.
ELA (http://www.effectivela.org) is an educational nonprofit that teams with schools and youth-serving community partners to provide students and educators with a rigorous curriculum for 21st-century skills development, reinforcing essential social, emotional, and workforce development abilities.
“Partnering with ELA is a perfect fit,” said Maria Gutierrez, Bendix director of corporate responsibility and sustainability. “We are proud to open our doors to local students and have the privilege of showing, firsthand, the wide variety of possibilities available to them in our common community. It’s important for young people to hear diverse perspectives and voices, and to see opportunity where they live – and not just in engineering, but in finance, supply chain and purchasing, human resources, and other fields where we aim to excel every day.”
For the event, ELA partnered with the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce and local school districts to provide its leadership and workforce readiness program, called the Chamber Leadership Academy. Through the program, ELA works with local chambers of commerce, area municipalities, elected officials, and business leaders to turn a city into a classroom. Students receive ELA’s hands-on, activity-based leadership curriculum for enhancing personal development.
“Our visit to Bendix was a unique and enriching opportunity for students that met the program’s mission of transforming our community into a classroom,” said Flo Brett, ELA founder and executive director. “The students are eager to learn of professional excellence and prospects in their own backyards. These experiences are only possible with valuable partnerships, and we are grateful to Bendix for opening its doors to these young people for a truly eye-opening day that broadened their scope of what they can achieve.”
New and Lasting Community Connections
During the panel discussion, three Bendix professionals provided perspectives on their unique educational and professional paths. Sparking discussion and interest among students were Esin Cubukcu, manager of materials testing and analysis; Mark Kromer, vice president of air supply and drivetrain in North America; and Deborah Lindsey, scrum master.
“Hearing from panelists, from many walks of life, is especially important as students consider their own futures, seek to build connections and mentors, and practice their soft skills,” Brett said. “The panelists’ stories were inspiring and heartwarming – and proved to be fertile ground for conversation for our student leaders.”
The event at Bendix is part of a five-day ELA sequence hosted in a different location each day and anchored by different central themes. ELA has grown from partnering with three schools in 2008 to developing relationships with over 230 school/community organizations and impacting over 42,000 students.
“It’s said, ‘You can’t become what you can’t see,’” Gutierrez said. “It’s vital to provide students and young leaders chances to be welcomed into different environments where they can see themselves thriving. It can open up their world.”