|Program participants stand with Program Director Dr. Sonja Pollard- Mitchell and Assistant Director Shontae Taylor .|
|Program participants explain their VDOT posters at the closing luncheon.|
|Program Director Dr. Sonja Pollard-Mitchell stands with VDOT officials at the program's closing luncheon.|
VDOT Commissioner says young people are, ‘future of transportation.’
The Hampton University National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) Summer Program ended July 20 with a heartfelt sentiment from Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner (VDOT) Gregory Whirley.
“You represent the future of transportation,” said Whirley, to the 23 high schoolers who participated in the six-week program on HU’s campus. “You came up as a team because you worked together. That’s what’s going to make you successful, working with other people.”
At the program’s closing luncheon, where Whirley was the guest speaker, students presented group work that consisted of a handcrafted symbol of VDOT and what the organization represents. As a whole, the free program exposes students to careers within the transportation industry, including science, engineering and construction.
Program Director Dr. Sonja Pollard-Mitchell, also a marketing professor at HU, said exposing students to the variety the transportation industry provides was a promise she made to participants’ parents, and one she kept.
“I told you at the beginning of this program that I would expose your children many opportunities,” she said.
Students visited Washington, D.C., Kitty Hawk, N.C., and Jamestown to learn of their transportation hubs, how those industries are maintained, and how they thrive.
“Our goal is that students are challenged to think outside of whatever box they’ve placed the transportation industry,” Mitchell said. “Many of them may have never considered the field of transportation as part of their work future, but now, they know it’s an option.”
Though several students playfully admitted not being interested in the program initially, student testimonials relayed they were pleased with the program's academic and social offerings.
“I enjoyed making the connections and building relationships with my peers and instructors,” said 16-year old Skyler Greene. “ I learned that VDOT has a variety of jobs not just (related to) the roads, but business, science and photography.”