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NEWS | June 30, 2024

D.C. National Guard welcomes 2024 Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP)

By Master Sgt. Arthur M. Wright and Elijah Butler | D.C. National Guard

The bamboo tree has long been a metaphor for growth, potential and resilience. It bends and withstands storms and whatever else Mother Nature throws at it. But it’s also a tree whose origins are planted and nurtured in cultivated soil. It’s a reminder that success often requires the right nourishment, maintenance, and support.

“It’s a process of patience, discipline and cultivation to achieve deep roots of integrity, hard work and goals that come to fruition,” said Marcus Hunt, director, D.C. Government Operations-DCNG.

Hunt welcomed members of the 2024 Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program to the D.C. Armory, June 26. The D.C. National Guard cohort is comprised of young adults age 18-21 who will not only gain exposure in dynamic careers, but also learn and develop the skills, attitudes, and commitment necessary to succeed in today’s work environment.

“It’s an opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the professional workplace,” Hunt said. “What’s beneficial about working in the D.C. Armory is you’re exposed to the D.C. government, the federal government, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Air Force— our participants see all facets of it. And each branch brings intangibles to better support the community and the nation. The question our participants need to ask themselves is where do they fit into the mold.”

Participants gain hands-on experience, mentorship, and a sense of purpose, much like the roots of the bamboo tree. The D.C. National Guard has approximately 12 sections open to MBSYEP participants who will work on projects until Aug. 2.

“You’re going to spend the majority of your life working, so pick something that you love to do that you’re passionate about when you get up,” said Maj. Gen. John C. Andonie, Commanding General (interim), D.C. National Guard.

During a Q&A session on the cohort’s orientation day, the D.C. National Guard’s most senior leader also emphasized the opportunities, networks and connections that sets D.C. apart from other regions.

“It’s an amazing place to be so if you’re not taking full advantage of it, you’re missing out,” he said.

The encounter left a lasting impression on the participants, making it a memorable start to their summer experience. They also received a tour of the D.C. National Guard Museum highlighting over 222-years of service. The D.C. National Guard’s lineage is indelibly tied to the history of the District and communities. It’s also a reminder of evolution, growth, and change.

“We’ve heard a lot of goals—graduating college, becoming a lawyer or HVAC tech, but I don’t want them to forget the process and journey it took to become a bamboo tree that stands tall,” Hunt said.

The Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP) is a locally funded initiative sponsored by the Department of Employment Services (DOES) that provides District youth ages 14 to 24 with enriching and constructive summer work experiences through subsidized placements in the private and government sectors. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser signed the Mayor's Order 2015-037 on January 14, 2015, to rename the program the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program in honor of former Mayor and MBSYEP founder Marion Barry.

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