"She loves children, animals and plants," said Carol Cavins. "She likes to see things grow and flourish. Now, it's her turn."
Cavins, a sophomore at Harlan High School, has been chosen as a 2003 participant in The Center For Rural Development's Rogers Scholars program.
"It's exciting," Cavins said. "During the week-long event in Somerset, I plan to learn all I can about opening my own business. I want to run a day care."
From a youth who admittedly "didn't like to be around kids," to a young lady who now can't get enough of their smiling faces, innocent outlook on life and giggles, Cavins has serious plans to one day operate her own home away from home for children. From September to January, she volunteered over 200 hours at the Small Wonders Day Care where her mother worked.
"She instantly had a heart for the children," Carol Cavins said. "She instantly fell in love with them and they fell in love with her."
During the Rogers Scholars program, Cavins will join other students from 42 counties in southeastern Kentucky for an intensive, one-week session beginning in July. Scholars will participate in majors in engineering, video production and information technology. Scholars will also take part in entrepreneurial training sessions and get the opportunity to interact via videoconference and in person with some of the nation's most renowned speakers and business professionals.
"We want to teach the young people of southeastern Kentucky confidence, skills and a deeper commitment to their hometowns and this region," said Lonnie Lawson, executive director and CEO of the center. "There will be serious instruction, but it will be presented in a fun, exciting, learning environment. Students will develop bonds and relationships that they can carry throughout their lives."
The heart of the Center For Rural Development's mission statement is "No young person will need to leave home to find his or her future."
The words, spoken by the program's namesake, Congressman Harold Rogers, frame its goals of encouraging youth to seek job opportunities at home while increasing their marketable skills in the field of telecommunications.
While Cavins' long-range goal is to open her own day care business, for now, the high school students is making preparations for college. She hopes to attend Cumberland College, major in early childhood development and receive her teaching degree.
During her week at the Rogers Scholar program, Cavins will take part in exercises designed to build leadership and cooperation. According to Lawson, one of the most exciting aspects of the program is the individual community action plan. Brainstorming about the needs of their communities, the scholars will develop projects that they take home and then implement in their various counties.
The Center tracks their progress. Previous successful projects include the opening of a teen center, beginning of an entrepreneurial library. and the assisting of a community in building its CenterNET videoconferencing site.
Cavins is hoping to walk away from the summer program with a better understanding of leadership and business skills, and the commitment to make her goal a reality.
"It's the first step to my future," Cavins said. "I'll hopefully learn what's needed to begin my efforts toward establishing my own day care center. Then, years from now, I will be able to give back to the next generation who'll be coming to my day care."
Being chosen for the Rogers Scholars program involves a highly competitive process. An essay, community and extra-curricular involvement, grade point average and reference letters are all used to judge applicants.
Cavins, who is the daughter of Dewey and Carol Cavins, of Baxter, was also recently named a "Who's Who Among American High School Student."