Junior Leadership Bay Program Seeks to Get Students to Stay - and Succeeds

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For many young people around Bay County, a common theme is a desire to leave, thinking there aren't enough opportunities locally for them to thrive.

The Junior Leadership Bay Program works to fight that perception while giving students an opportunity to compete for a scholarship for 2 years at Gulf Coast State College and 2 years at Florida State University's Panama City campus.

"A lot of them have no idea that we offer so much in this area," said Carly Sostheim, chairman of the JLB steering committee.

Participants got the chance to tour various areas, from medical to tourism.

"I didn't know how many jobs are in Bay County," said program participant Taylor Jock. "We toured Bay Medical Center and it showed me how a medical center works and made me want to come back to Bay County when I graduate from college."

While Jock doesn't have plans to attend college in Panama City, scholarship winner Anna Wirrik does, with the hopes of studying to become an engineer.

She also says the program opened her eyes to new options locally, "It was a lot of exposure to different career types and a lot of people are just so ready to get out, but I love it here, so I'm excited to stay."

Students heard from Superintendent Bill Husfelt as well as Congressman Steve Southerland who spoke to students about the importance of finding their purpose in life.