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A Special Day-The Workforce Readiness HR Prodigy Program

On February 7th, 2015, the HR Tampa Workforce Readiness Committee convened at the Lowry Park Zoo for an auspicious occasion. This was an opportunity to meet the 2015 HR Prodigy Intern candidates and pay tribute and reward the 2014 scholarship recipients.

Debby Erdahl was at the helm of this event and serving Director of the Workforce Readiness committee. For anyone who knows Debby, they also knows that she leaves no stone unturned…ensuring the day’s event ran like clockwork. Decorations were in place, refreshments were available and the setting was perfect for the gathering.

All committee members arrived with enthusiasm and prepared to make this a special event for the new intern candidates and a memorable one for the past year’s recipients. A special thanks to Julie Hover, Paycor, who negotiated and secured the Lowry Park Zoo location for the day’s event. The park staff were extremely supportive by providing the committee a rather interesting classroom filled with little creatures and educational displays of different types of animals.

Each guest was greeted with a warm welcome and a smile by Carolyn Eagen, Omnia Group,  when they first arrived to the location.  An elegant sign-in table was set up outside the classroom with flowers and décor to symbolize the honor given to being a selected candidate with the HR Prodigy program.   

The Human Resource professional team consisting of Angel Barton, Director of College Relations and Stephanie Ertel, who have over 30 years of combined expertise delivered a motivating presentation to the six new interns that summarized the working parts of the Human Resources field. Both were able to share some real world experiences that added to the vitality of the presentation.

Marie Haskins, AMI Kids and Michael Levy, Verify Marketing Background, also supported the day’s event by presenting their respective roles with the Workforce Readiness committee and ensuring the event is remembered with lots of photos available at

The morning kicked off with the welcoming of seven  new interns for 2015, Arletis Alfonso (Leto); Deedrick Daniels (Chamberlain); David Docobo(Robinson); Patrice Henry (Tampa Bay Tech); Shakaria Leonard (Tampa Bay Tech); Karyna Mejia (Robinson) and Clara Valencia (Chamberlain).   They were greeted with refreshments, a brief introduction and welcoming from each committee member and the Human Resources educational presentation.

Marie Haskins guided the group through the curriculum designed to explore the inner workings and activities to gain hands-on experience of Human Resources in the field. Interns are expected to do business visits, community service volunteering and write essays about their experiences throughout the year. Upon completing the curriculum, the candidate is expected to have a greater understanding of the world of work and better insight to the Human Resources profession.

The second half of the day paid tribute to the 2014 HR Prodigy recipients, Jennifer Mattingly ($1500 award), Ashley Parker ($1000 award) and Matt Lenhart ($1000 award) who were each awarded with a monetary gift for their high level of efforts in completion of the program. They were accompanied by their parents making the day all the more special and the award presentation significant.

As each recipient was recognized, they had an opportunity to share their experience of the year and what the HR Prodigy program has provided to them both professionally and personally. Afterwards, all guests enjoyed lunch giving everyone a chance to mingle and get to know the committee and each other.

Over the course of the year the 2015 HR Prodigy intern candidates will be expected to demonstrate the same level of commitment as those the year before. Although each candidate will be evaluated at the end of the year for their own merits, they have been paired up with a volunteer mentor who will help guide them through the program’s curriculum.

As an end result, the Workforce Readiness program has identified a small group of high school students who are asking for leadership to help them learn, prepare and integrate into the world of work. The HR Tampa Workforce Readiness committee answered to that call by developing the HR Prodigy program. In today’s society; HR Tampa recognizes the essential need to be vigilant in the community by supporting progressive programs that make a difference--the Workforce Readiness program does just that.


The year ahead has the students involved with volunteer hours, HR Tampa Student College Relations Meetings, Business Events attended as a group to local businesses – Florida Aquarium, Hiregy, Chromalloy Casting, USF Credit Union, and Tampa General.   Also included with their program, they will individual visit one or two businesses to spent a couple of hours to learning about the business and the function that HR plays in the business operations.   As a part of the scholarship consideration, they will each have two essays due during the course of the year which pertain to concept relating to HR that interest them and the relevance to them and the general importance within the workplace.

The HR Prodigy Group has an exciting and educational year ahead.   The committee and students express our sincere appreciation to the membership of HR Tampa for the continued interest and support of this valuable opportunity to introduce the field of Human Resources to them and provide scholarship funding and support to their college education and professional development.


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