Vitals: Mike Cooksey, 21, was born and raised in Rockford. Cooksey recently graduated from YouthBuild Rockford’s Fast-Track Construction Arts program. In his spare time, Cooksey enjoys playing basketball and spending time with his family and friends.
1. What impact has the YouthBuild program had on your life? YouthBuild has had a very big impact on my life. When I went into YouthBuild, I didn’t feel like I was going to do anything with my life in general. YouthBuild opened up a new path for me. They showed me a life based upon success, and gave me the direction and strength to attain those goals. When I lost my dad, it made me grow up more. I didn’t have anybody to get advice from, so I had to go out and get my own advice. Plus, I learned to never give up on myself.
2. What are your plans for life after YouthBuild? First, I plan on attending college to get my business degree. Then, I plan on joining the roofers’ union before opening my own roofing company.
3. How do you plan on building upon the success of completing the YouthBuild program? YouthBuild gave me leadership skills because I was on a committee, which I ran, and I was a foreman on the construction site. It also gave me the courage and the ability to speak with and direct large groups of people, which are invaluable in the job market.
4. What is the most challenging aspect of completing the program? Personally, for me, it was hardest to continue after the death of my father. YouthBuild requires motivation, dedication and will power to keep on going, which they provided me with when they noticed I was struggling. The staff was always there for me after his passing. They made sure I had everything I needed, and always made sure I knew I had someone to talk to. Ms. Mandy, my caseworker, was the biggest help to me through all that.
5. Question from last week’s “This week in The Times” participant, James Heavlin: Who is your pick to win the upcoming Super Bowl? I’m sure the New Orleans Saints will be a strong contender. And, as bad as I hate to say it, if the Chicago Bears get their heads on straight, they could be surprise contenders as well.
“This week in The Times” is a weekly survey of people selected by The Rock River Times staff. The column does not accept unsolicited submissions.
From the Aug. 18-24, 2010 issue