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BI senior juggles work, school, real world
0331  Eriko Smith
BI senior Eriko Smith works part-time as a graphic arts apprentice through the school’s Work-Based Learning Program. - photo by Photo provided.
Graduating from high school and deciding what career path to pursue are two of life’s first big milestones for many young people. Eriko Smith, a senior at Bradwell Institute, is just a stone’s throw away from both of these and, thanks to the Liberty County School System’s Work-Based Learning Program, she’s well-prepared.
WBL coordinator Dr. Lisa Eason said, “Eriko is an exemplary student who always exceeds expectations.” Smith is in her fourth semester of WBL and works as a graphic arts apprentice for the Department of Defense at Fort Stewart in the Directorate of Planning, Training and Mobilization Security. Her worksite supervisor, Steve Ng, said, “Eriko is a great worker with a strong passion for the career field she has chosen.”
Smith’s interest in graphic arts began when she took her first graphic communications class as a freshman. Her desire to gain real-world experience in the field led her to apply for the work-based learning program during her junior year. Smith was able to participate in work-based learning for two consecutive years because she completed most of her required core courses during her freshman and sophomore years.
The paycheck she receives from working is a plus, but she also receives elective credits for the hours she logs. In addition to learning how to get along with co-workers, Smith said she has gained valuable knowledge about maintaining a budget. “You never know what kind of financial situations you’ll encounter in life, so it’s always good to have a plan just in case. Savings accounts are a big help because they can act as your safety net out of financial instability,” she said
Experiencing real-world situations has prepared Smith for life after high school in many ways. She said she’s “learned that to be successful in life, you need to be tolerant, selfless, efficient and have a sense of humility.” Smith works from 7:30-11:30 a.m. and then reports to school to take advanced placement literature and graphic design and production.
In addition to her work and academic responsibilities, Smith participates in extracurricular activities, including SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA is a career technical student organization and is a partnership of students, teachers and industries working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Smith serves as president of the organization at Bradwell. She recently competed in a graphic communications region competition and received a first-place medal for her efforts. She advanced to the state level in Atlanta.
Jim Collins, Bradwell graphic arts instructor and SkillsUSA advisor, said, “I have had Eriko in my graphic communications program since her freshman year. She is a shining star in our graphic arts pathway. Due to her hard work, she has a great chance to win gold at state this year.”
Smith is also on the Bradwell Tigers varsity girls soccer team and is a member of National Honor Society and student council.
Smith will graduate with honors in May with a dual seal, indicating completion of required college-preparatory curriculum and career technical education curriculum. She plans to attend Georgia Southern University in the fall and double-major in graphic communications management and graphic design. Smith would like to pursue a career as a magazine editor or a graphic communications teacher.

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