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President Obama Participates in Obama Foundation Career Development Series with High School Students on Chicago’s South Side

April 7, 2022 at 2:05 PM CDT

The Obama Foundation’s “Futures Series” at Hyde Park Academy High School aims to expose youth to multiple career pathways

CHICAGO – Today, President Obama spoke with 450 students in the auditorium of Hyde Park Academy High School as part of the Obama Foundation Futures Series, conversations designed to expose high school students to different professions within various industries. The series seeks to deepen the students’ understanding of career pathways through intimate conversations with accomplished leaders about their experiences and valuable learning lessons.

During the hour-long conversation, Hyde Park Academy students had the opportunity to directly ask the President questions about his early career decisions, his time in office, and the unexpected turns he encountered along the way.

“I didn’t have a clear cut path to becoming the President of the United States, I took many roads to get to where I am today and it took me a while to get there,” said President Obama. “There is so much pressure around what you’re going to do when you grow up and the truth is you have room and time to explore a bunch of ideas. You all are so young and you shouldn’t feel bad that you haven’t figured it out yet.”

The Futures Series began in February 2022. The Foundation collaborated with the school’s student advisory committee to help outline session format, curate speakers, and identify career paths students are eager to learn more about, from arts and entertainment to business and entrepreneurship and from science and technology to public service. Sessions typically welcome 35-50 students across grade levels, who are selected by Hyde Park Academy teachers, counselors, and the principal, to participate in conversations based on their career aspirations. Speakers to-date include:

  • Ariel Investments Founder John Rogers and his mentee Myles Gage, Founder of Rapunzl, who spoke with students about finance

  • Former president of the Seattle King County Branch of the NAACP Professor Carl Mack, who spoke about the importance of understanding your history and those who came before you as part of a special Black History Month event

  • The Gray Matter Experience Founder Britney Robbins, Skill Scout Media CEO & Co-Founder Elena Valentine, and Brand Strategist & Project Manager at Gumbo Media Sierra Council who spoke on a women-led panel moderated by Director of GET Chicago Elle Ramel about entrepreneurship

Upcoming sessions will include Executive Director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches Craig Robinson, ABC News President Kim Godwin, City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado, and notable Chicago jazz musician Herbie Hancock.

“The idea behind the Futures Series is simple—if you can see it, you can be it,” said Obama Foundation CEO Valerie Jarrett. “We want every young person to see the accomplishments of the speakers in this series as within their own reach and to dream a little bit bigger. That they too can be the next CEO or President of the United States. This initiative is just one of the ways the Obama Foundation is focused on engaging youth in our front yard and it’s the kind of activity that we are thrilled to bring to life when the Obama Presidential Center opens its doors.”

The Futures Series is just one example of the kind of Foundation programming that will take place across the street from Hyde Park Academy at the Obama Presidential Center.

Construction on the Center began in September 2021 and is anticipated to open in 2025.


Contact: Courtney D. Williams, [email protected]