HDC Spotlight: Carmel Polk, MS, CESP

As a Transition Specialist, Carmel Polk helps PAY Check participants transition to life after high school by teaching them community and work-related skills that are crucial for independent life. PAY Check’s mission to nurture young people’s abilities for full community participation is what attracted Carmel to the position.

It is important that we ensure students have the tools and skills to live independently in society. We want young people to be the best version of themselves in every capacity.

– Carmel Polk, MS, CESP

Carmel’s favorite skill to teach is transportation, which also requires navigation and time management skills. A participant’s ability to take public transportation allows them to get to work, shop at the grocery store, and navigate to new places. It is a key to independent life and opens their world for greater choice in how they live. Carmel strives to nourish this autonomy in her lessons with PAY Check participants. Transitioning to adulthood isn’t easy, but as a Transition Specialist, Carmel helps steer participants to responsibly take control of their own lives.

Her patience and knack of gentle empowerment is perhaps her secret weapon in seeing participants succeed in the PAY Check program. It is no doubt that participants and their parents love Carmel and her work. “Carmel is able to establish great rapport with the students, families, counselors and instructors and we receive many positive reports for her work from each of them,” PAY Check Project Director Sue Killam states.

Carmel’s most rewarding PAY Check moments are on post-secondary campuses like Delgado Community College. She says, “Seeing PAY Check participants in the real word socializing and making friends is rewarding because they are taking what we teach them and applying it to their life.” She can’t wait to see PAY Check participants back on campuses again in August.

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More about the PAY Check program

Postsecondary Apprenticeship for Youth (PAY Check) is an innovative collaboration between the Human Development Center (HDC), Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS), public school systems, and employers in the New Orleans metro area.

PAY Check is a 3 semester program where students participate in courses at a post-secondary institution, engage in professional career development activities, learn community and work-related skills, and gain employment experience through two 10-week paid internships.