Connections 2017

Goldsboro News Argus - Progress Edition

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45 C hristian Yarbrough wiped his hand on his shirt and slowly pressed the power button. Fans began to roar and lights started to glow from inside the tower. The 15-year-old stood back from his desk in amazement of his newly built computer. "Once you get it together and hit that power button, it turns on," he said. "It's a sense of accomplishment." One year later, Christian walks in and out of downtown Goldsboro businesses as part of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce's Junior Leadership program to see how he can help build his favorite city and look at it in amaze- ment — just as he once built his first computer. "Back in the day this used to be the hot spot," he said. "I just want to see Goldsboro go back up to its original state where everyone appreci- ated it." The Spring Creek High School junior was selected last October, along with 24 other jun- iors, to work with the chamber's Leadership Wayne County team. Sherry Archibald, director of the Paramount Theatre and the Goldsboro Event Center, leads juniors during the government and law day to guide students along the process of entering local politics and law enforcement if they choose to as adults. A friendly feud game gives Archibald a chance to ask juniors and city councilmen governmental and political ques- tions. She said the juniors reach victory at times with answers to pop-culture questions. Archibald said the juniors participate in other activities led by chamber members such as health care day, agri- cultural day, Air Force day, and more. She said the leadership team formed the junior program 15 years ago to hopefully see young people stay in Goldsboro or return after college to help grow the city. The team selects 22 to 25 juniors from 60 applications each year based on a grade point average of a "B" or above, availability for the eight sched- uled leadership days from October to May, 10 hours of volunteer service and involvement in school and community activities. Christian applied for the program and smiled when he received the invitation. He said he did not boast, but he was excited to be accepted to a program like Junior Leadership. The Golds- boro native said he plans to attend North Car- olina State University after graduation for a degree in computer engineering. Returning to his favorite city is definitely a possibility, Christian said. "This is where I've grown up my whole life," he said. "So, I do plan on coming back to Goldsboro and trying to help out as much as I can, but I can't say 100 percent or not. I would have to see how it goes after college." Archibald understands stu- dents might move away for a job, or remain in the town of a their college or university. She said she moved to Goldsboro from Raleigh 18 years ago, but she had a hard time going back. Archibald fell in love with her new city. "I want them to feel like this is a place they can be proud of and that they can call home and that they can make home again if they decide to leave to go somewhere else, or school, or for a short period of time," she said. Young people staying in Goldsboro or return- ing to the city has been credited mainly to the Young Professionals of Wayne County. For eight years, the group brought young peo- ple aged 21 to 40 together for social, education- al and career activities. Although the program no longer exists under the Young Professionals name, it definitely did not end –– it evolved. Lara Landers, director of marketing and events with the chamber, said there are several groups involving young professionals in the community, without having a specific Young Professionals organization. Military Affairs Committee, Governmental Affairs, Wayne Education Network, Small Busi- ness Support and the Leadership program con- sist of young business owners and politicians who helped form the organization and watched it grow into other already-existing committees. "We have young professionals in all of these areas," Landers said. "We have a very, active group of young professionals that are spread throughout everything the chamber does." Kate Daniels, president of the chamber, said other chambers across eastern North Carolina look to "seasoned" professionals to lead or join groups, but Daniels said young and old mem- bers have helped with the growth of the city. HOMEGROWN TALENT needed back at home Wayne County Chamber of Commerce Junior Leadership progrm participant Christian Yarbrough adjusts the cooling fan in the tower of a computer he assembled in his home in Goldsboro. Many of Goldsboro's best and brightest students go on to college, but often choose to live and work elsewhere. The city would benefit greatly if those minds –– and businesses –– would find their way back home. Story by BRANDON DAVIS Photo by SETH COMBS See TALENT, Page 46

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