12 for Life® Hosts Annual Graduation Ceremonies, Celebrates 15 Years

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Jun 13, 2022

On Tuesday, May 24, 12 for Life® hosted its annual commencement ceremonies in Carrollton, Ga., and Florence, Ala., celebrating 15 years since the program’s inception.
12 for Life, a collaborative partnership that began between Southwire and Carroll County Schools in 2007, provides classroom instruction, on-the-job training, key work and life skills, mentoring and employment opportunities. Through 12 for Life, students are motivated to stay in school, graduate and move ahead to become successful, productive members of the communities in which they live. Due to its growth and success in the west Georgia area, a second site for 12 for Life was added at Southwire’s campus in Florence in 2010.

“12 for Life is a critical program that helps students get on the right track for their lives, both inside and outside of high school. We don’t realize how much this program impacts our students’ lives until we are able to witness their growth in school and in the workplace,” said Derrick Autrey, plant manager at 12 for Life in Carrollton. “This program is a true reflection of Giving Back and Building Worth in our community.” 

This year, 31 students from Carroll, Haralson and Heard County Schools, as well as Bremen and Carrollton City Schools, were honored at the ceremony and completed the requirements to receive their high school diplomas through the support of the Carrollton-area program.  
The graduation ceremony for the Carrollton location was hosted at the Carroll County Schools Performing Arts Center. Attendees included students, teachers, families, school system representatives, Southwire employees, key government leaders, community leaders and friends.
The event was led by Joel Grubbs, 12 for Life site supervisor for Carroll County Schools. Guest speakers included Fernando Esquivel, Southwire’s executive vice president of People & Culture, and Dr. Jessica Ainsworth, assistant superintendent of performance for Carroll County Schools.

In addition to the recognition of each graduate, several awards and scholarships were granted during the ceremony. The Academic Achievement Award, given to the student with the highest GPA in the program, was presented to William Perry of Central High School.  
Six students were recognized for their eligibility for a Southwire Scholarship. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Scholarships were presented to Elmer Trejo Trejo of Villa Rica High School, Haven Ackey of Carrollton High School and Javier Vallecillo of Carrollton High School. The Golden K Kiwanis Club awarded scholarships to Caleb Elliott of Haralson County High School, Diamond King of Bowdon High School and William Perry of Central High School.
Throughout their time at 12 for Life, many of the graduates also completed college courses and received certifications related to their chosen career pathways. At the program’s Carrollton location, graduates who decided to remain with Southwire full-time participated in a signing day, in which they each received a Southwire jersey and an offer letter to work at 12 for Life.

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“It brings me joy to witness our students achieve their goals and increase their confidence personally and professionally,” said Christina Hiler, People & Culture manager at 12 for Life Carrollton. “The students, schools, faculty and Southwire support staff have all come together for the students, and it is so rewarding to see the students complete the program exponentially changed for the betterment of their futures.”

This year, the Florence program graduated 26 students. These graduates — in addition to those from Carrollton — mark a total of nearly 3,900 students who have completed 12 for Life to date.
The Florence ceremony, which occurred at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center, was led by Dr. Corey Behel, director of partnerships for Florence City Schools. The keynote address was presented by Timothy Alexander, the first paraplegic football player to receive a football scholarship at the University of Alabama – Birmingham and an award-winning motivational speaker. Alexander’s mission centers on equipping individuals to be agents of change.

Recipients of the 12 for Life Leadership Awards included Karen Loaeza of Florence High School and Annabelle Harris of Central High School in Florence. The 12 for Life Resilience Award was presented to Marleni Ponce of Florence High School. The Mr. and Ms. Southwire Awards were presented to Eduardo Moreno and Dorinda Hernandez of Florence High School.

“Through this program, we strive to give our students a foundation for success, and I hope that our graduates leave 12 for Life with a solid foundation of success by taking ownership and responsibility for every area of their lives,” said Marcus Johnson, supervisor at 12 for Life in Florence. “12 for Life builds character, confidence and integrity to be a valuable person and employee, and I’m thankful to be a part of it.”

To learn more about 12 for Life, click here. For more Southwire news, visit www.southwire.com/newsroom.