General Motors' Foundation brings girls to Detroit from Buffalo to learn about auto industry

(WXYZ) - You've seen me do Detroit 2020 stories under the banner of Against All Odds.

Well, tonight we have a story to salute the General Motors’ Foundation and their efforts to help students find success.

Underprivileged students from Buffalo, New York have been brought to the Motor City two years in a row to learn from auto execs here in Detroit and take with them the ability to dream big.

General Motors has been around since 1908 and the jobs in this auto giant are far too many to count. From engineering to car designers, even public relations, but for high school students in poor urban communities what gm has to offer is often times considered out of reach.

“I just want people to be motivated to do things other than what they're told they can or can’t do,” says senior Selena Diaz. “I've been told I can't get out of my shell, but I joined a pageant and I actually won and now I’m interested in communications.”

But the gap just got a little smaller at least for nearly a dozen young women who were hand selected from their high schools to travel here to see firsthand what GM has to offer to employees who look just like them.

“It’s interesting because I didn't know people had this many jobs and its impacted me positively so now I have a mindset that’s much bigger than it was a few days ago,” says junior Leecia Clinkseales.

Jennifer Parker started an initiative called Success Looks Like Me. Thanks to funding provided by the GM Foundation and the support of GM's Tonawanda engineering plant in Buffalo, she raised $500,000 for an endowment to give minorities in low income areas access to places and experiences they normally would not see.

“Their world changed,” Parker says. “The principals and the teachers said that they were more serious in school. They just had options, that's what it's about.”

Last year, GM sponsored a group of young men, but this year it was the ladies turn. They toured GM headquarters, visited the design center and even had lunch with women of color who work for GM.

As an added bonus, they all got a chance to tour channel 7 - the oldest ABC affiliate in the country.

GM is hoping this experience will broaden their thoughts about careers in engineering.

Nina Price is a Community Relations Manager for GM and the Project Manager for Success Looks Like Me.

“I tell you, I wanted to show off our city. I'm originally from Michigan, from Detroit, worked at headquarters, and I think it’s so important that our young ladies see that there are people that look like them who are very successful in the auto industry,” Price say.

And after touring GM, having dinner and seeing a new and improved Detroit?

“Detroit had a bad connotation before I came here, so the fact that I came here - it's like the downtown itself was amazing,” says junior Temara Cross.

These young ladies are juniors and seniors in high school and, before this trip, many said they had no idea what they wanted to pursue as a career. But now their eyes are wide open.

“I think I want to work for GM, like designing, like before I even left I was designing my own car because I was so inspired,” says Diaz.

The GM Foundation will continue their mentorship though initiatives like Success Looks Like Me, so young students will see inroads into the auto industry, especially young women who don't always choose engineering as a pathway to success.

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