The Union County CEO class of 2019 met recently with Tim Denny of the Law Offices of Foley and Denny at the Southern ReMax office in Anna. Students will hear the stories of more than 75 business and community leaders during the course of the class. Photo provided.

Union County CEO program accepting applications for 2020

The CEO program of Union County is accepting online applications for 2020 juniors and seniors who are interested in participating in next year’s CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) program, a two-credit hour high school class that meets daily in local businesses. 

The new digital application is accessed through  

A click on “Student Recruitment” sends potential candidates a link to more student-centered information, and then when ready, the “Apply Now” tab begins the process.  

The applications can be completed in parts on a phone or computer and are due Feb. 15. Applicants then will have until Feb. 25 to have online references completed.

Submitted applications will have all personal and school information redacted so that selection is a blind process.

Students may contact any Union County high school counselor for more information.  

Home-schooled or private school students are welcomed to apply as well and may contact Evelyn Bailey, 618-867-4038, for process details.

In a recent survey of the CEO alumni, they were asked what CEO skills they had found most helpful in college life.

University of Oklahoma freshman and Army ROTC member John Russell replied, “All of the soft skills I learned have helped me immensely in college.”  He also advised high school upperclassmen, “Set your goals high. Don’t sell yourself short.”

Jessa Bond, a first-year Shawnee Community College nursing student, said, “The skills I have learned in CEO are so valuable to me. Learning to take responsibility for my actions, to ask questions, and to always exceed expectations have helped me greatly while I am in school and in every other area of my life.”

Lindenwood University junior and cheerleader Samantha Smith responded, “I definitely think the most important CEO benefit has been the ability to network with adults and professionals in the industry. 

“CEO has provided a great platform to seek others as resources and connect on a professional level. It is always very easy for me to approach my professors, guest speakers, or potential employers and start up a conversation. 

“I have felt very prepared because many of the concepts have been introduced to me through the CEO program.”

Samantha’s advice to high school students was: “Take advantage of the opportunities CEO will provide, make connections, listen, and try to discover things you’re passionate about. 

“Be open to new ideas and be engaged. Also, set goals in high school and start working towards them. 

“You are not too young to have big ideas, and if you are looking for opportunity now, you are more likely to find things you didn’t even know about. 

“Enjoy high school as much as you can, but know that there are so many exciting things out there and let that motivate you as you’re planning your future. 

“Don’t let being comfortable where you are now stop you from achieving bigger things. As I’m sure you’re learning, the higher the risk the higher the reward.”

CEO exposes students to business practices, connects them with leaders in their community, and allows them to practice communication, problem solving, and networking in a variety of settings. 

Ultimately, it guides each team member through starting and running their own functioning small business, all while cultivating essential skills and an expansive, long-lasting network of community members and business owners. 

These skills and experiences also assist with scholarship applications and interviews. The class of 2018 received over $200,000 in scholarships 

Union County CEO is entirely supported by local businesses and organizations as well as individual investors.   

The local program is a chapter of the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship, which supports approximately 50 excellent CEO (Creating Entrepreneurship Opportunities). 

Programs that are long term economic development programs for nationwide forward-thinking communities.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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