Town Manager, Coeburn, VA
- St. Paul High School, Wise County Public Schools
- CTE studies: Information Technology Fundamentals
- Additional studies: Pursuing Bachelor of Arts in Government with a concentration in political science, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise
Leading a town
by Veronica Garabelli
Drew Mullins is only 25 years old, but he’ already gained valuable business leadership experience as manager of Coeburn, a town in Southwest Virginia with a population of 2,000.
Drew stepped into the town manager role three years ago and is tasked with supervising Coeburn’s day-to-day operations. He manages the budget, four departments, and 28 employees.
Drew began gaining leadership experience in high school when he participated in Virginia’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) organization, which taught him budgeting skills and how to conduct himself in business settings. He’s still part of the organization today, serving on the board of the Virginia FBLA-PBL Foundation, which helps send students to the national FBLA conference each year and promotes leadership development at the state conference.
During high school, Drew also was part of a community effort to stop the consolidation of his high school. The effort was unsuccessful (his high school, St. Paul, was merged with Coeburn High School and became Eastside High School), but it helped him gain insight on how local government and schools work.
“If I hadn’t gotten involved in that, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he says, adding that he also made valuable connections through the experience that are still useful today.
He wants to eventually become a lawyer but would like to continue working in the public sector. To aid that effort, Drew plans to complete his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise this December. He’ll serve as town manager until his contract expires in 2019 and then plans to go to law school. He advises high school students who want to follow in his footsteps to stay focused. “Success isn’t defined by your age or what you’ve been through,” he says. “It’s defined by the quality of work you put into it. Success is determined by you. Find your passion and absorb everything you can. Plan your future but have fun. Stay focused, and set goals, Don’t live just for today.”
Administrative Analyst, NTT Data Federal Services, Inc. Vienna
- Stonewall Jackson High School, Prince William County Public Schools
- CTE studies: Keyboarding; Principles of Business and Marketing; Entrepreneurship; Computer Information Systems; Digital Input Technology
- Additional studies: Completed courses at Averett University in Danville and Northern Virginia Community College; pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration, Capella University, online
Branching into business
by Veronica Garabelli
When it comes to pursuing her dreams, Kirsten Branch is getting down to business.
Kirsten is paying her way through school while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration, working full time for a government contractor, and serving as the head cheerleading coach at her alma mater, Stonewall Jackson High School.
To most, that would be a full plate, but Kirsten’s ambitions don’t end there. Her ultimate career goal is to continue to advance in public service and work for multiple government agencies. She also wants to keep mentoring young professionals and students.
At NTT Data Federal Services, Kirsten works as an administrative analyst supporting a Department of Justice contract. Although security measures prevent her from sharing specific information about her job, she says she regularly uses the skills and knowledge she gained in her middle and high school CTE courses.
Kirsten says she wanted to work in business because it provides a good opportunity to make a living. She also was drawn to the different functions of business – from operations to finance and business development.
The business program at Stone-wall Jackson also had a big impact on Kirsten’s love of business. “My business teachers impacted me so much that they will probably be invited to my wed-ding,” she says.
Even her experience as a cheerleading coach has helped Kirsten gain business skills. For example, Kirsten has to implement a financial plan to track how much money is brought in from fund-raising and how much uniforms will cost.
“It’s very much like a business,” she says.
Assistant to the Director of Special Events for Athletics, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg
- Heritage High School, Newport News City Public Schools
- CTE studies: Business Management; Fashion Marketing; Computer Information Systems; Advanced Computer Information Systems; Keyboarding
- Additional studies: Bachelor’s in Retail Marketing, Virginia Commonwealth University
Blending business and marketing skills
by Veronica Garabelli
Raquel Babb helped organize an auction this year that raised more than $400,000 for athletic scholarships at the College of William & Mary.
“I love being able to be part of something I enjoy because as I grew up, I played sports all of my life, and just being able to put together such fun and profitable events … makes it even better in order to help someone else’s dream come true,” Raquel says.
As the assistant to the director of special events for athletics at the College of William & Mary, Raquel helps organize multiple events a year for sports teams and athletic scholarships. Raquel designs marketing materials and invitations for upcoming events and also is in charge of event logistics, such as purchasing food, ordering supplies, and booking hotels. She also updates the College of William & Mary’s athletic Web site, develops mass emails, and stays in contact with alumni and vendors regarding athletic events.
Raquel learned a lot of the foundational skills she uses in her current job in high school. She regularly uses Microsoft Word and Excel, programs she learned in her Computer Information Systems classes. Her senior year she also took courses in business management and fashion marketing.
“That definitely stuck out to me because that’s something I’ve always been interested in, just learning different aspects of marketing and how you have to incorporate that within your business in order to be successful,” she says about the fashion marketing class.
In fact, Raquel wants to one day open her own women or teen’s clothing store. She also would like to attend the Flex MBA Program at the College of William & Mary’s The Raymond A. Mason School of Business. Raquel advises others who want to go into her field to follow their dreams, even if they have to go about it a different way. She notes that when she was first applying for college, she applied for the fashion-merchandising program but didn’t get in because she applied too late. As an alternative, she chose retail marketing and it turned out to be a better choice for her. “All in all, I learned more about business because it’s such a broad spectrum, and, honestly, it took me farther— so never give up,” she says.
The Career Clusters logo and its extensions are the property of the National Career Technical Foundation, as managed by NASDCTEc. Some content on this page is from the publication, R U College & Career Ready? - 2017 Edition; and is used here with permission from the Virginia Business Publications LLC and Trailblazers in the Demographics and Workforce Section of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.