Weston University Program Opens Minds and Doors to Possible Career Paths

Applications are now being accepted for the Weston University Class of 2020. Now in its 18th year, this one-of-a-kind civic education program provides select high school juniors and seniors with a first-hand look at how our local government works.

The seven-month program begins in October during Florida City Government Week. Weston University program students spend one day each month interacting with city leaders and participating in hands-on activities while exploring the various departments and agencies that make up our local government. The curriculum focuses on local and state government, fire and emergency medical services, community services and public works, development services: planning and zoning as well as engineering, law enforcement services, and finance and technology services. The program may also include a one-day trip to Washington DC, so students can better understand the relationship between municipal and federal government. It culminates with a simulated City Commission meeting where students utilize the knowledge they have gained throughout the program year to present and/or defend their side of several agenda issues. 

Weston University program director Denise Barrett-Miller says the visit to Calvin Giordano & Associations for Planning & Zoning Services Day is one of her favorite. “The staff there goes around the room and tells the students about themselves, including what they went to school for and what they do now. Over the years, there have been some very interesting tales. I think it is great for students to see that life has twists and turns and takes you in different directions sometimes and that is okay – you don’t have to have it all figured out at 16!”

Barrett-Miller says what is especially rewarding to her is seeing the number of Weston University alumni who have gone on to government-related careers. “From our very first Weston U class, a young lady changed her career path after our day with Planning & Zoning. She went on to the University of Florida to study engineering, interned with our City engineering firm in the summers and then went to work for them when she graduated. She now works for the City of Boca Raton.”

Another Weston U graduate currently works for Barrett-Miller in the City’s Communications Department. “Daniela Alzate worked part-time for the City while going to college and then I brought her on full-time as a Communications Staff Assistant. She also spent one summer as a White House Intern during the Obama administration,” shared Barrett-Miller. “I know of several students who interned for Congressional leaders and another who is now a land use attorney who comes back to speak to our Weston University Class each year.”

Students with an interest in local government are encouraged to apply to the Weston University program. Application information can be obtained at each school. Cypress Bay students should contact AP US Government Teacher Erica Salmeri-Bookman, Western High students should contact Activities Coordinator Helene Kocis, and Sagemont students should contact Principal Mellesia Nelson. Each school has its own deadline and selections will be made by early October.

  • For more information on the Weston University program go
    to www.westonfl.org.