Mariah Nichols, Assistant News Editor

Lakeland, a 51.45-mile city full of history and community is going to be a place of exciting adventure for students.

YLakeland, an initiative of the Lakeland Economic Development Council (LEDC), which connects young professionals to what is happening around town and what opportunities the community offers beyond school, has developed a new program for young adults.

Intro to Lakeland is a new 15-week class for college students which began on Jan. 14 and will continue through April 21.  Each week this program travels to different places located in Lakeland for a two-hour session starting at 3:15 p.m. till 5:15 p.m. This allows second semester freshman students to come together and learn hands on about the City of Lakeland with field trips, guest speakers, local food spots and connecting with other students from the different colleges around Lakeland.

This program is designed to showcase all the fun and unique places this city has to offer that the typical college student may not know about.

“The program focuses on just that,” said Christina Graham, the director of college connections at YLakeland. “The unique places to go in Lakeland like The Poor Porker, the entrepreneurs that are making a difference in our community, and the iconic places in our community that gives Lakeland its history.”

In total there are 22 students that have signed up for Intro to Lakeland -seven from FSC, six from Keiser University, five from Southeastern University, and four from Polk State College. These participating students will gain valuable insight about the people, business and places to visit, as well as the great food that Lakeland has to offer.

“They can expect to learn about what it takes to start a business, what it means to be a leader, why people choose to live in Lakeland, and so much more,” Graham said.

The program is designed to not feel like a class, but to be an experience. With students coming from different states and even countries as this new chapter begins, YLakeland is making it a point to break down the barriers and open new doors.

“In this class, students should expect to make new friends they may have never had the opportunity to meet otherwise, network with local leaders, and learn about the different industry options in Lakeland,” Graham said.

Wondering how to sign up? Students are selected by professors or administrators on each college campus to participate in this class. What they look for is leadership potential, as well as the candidate’s availability and desire to get connected to the community. YLakeland hopes to continue this program every spring semester for freshman students.

“The benefits of taking this course as a Florida Southern student includes the opportunity to collaborate with peers, network with community leaders, learn about Lakeland’s history and industry, and develop leadership skills, all while receiving college credit,” Graham said.

This unique concept offers a classroom without walls, adventure that’s not printed in your textbooks, and life experiences that no longer have to be just a thought. Thanks to YLakeland you can be a part of something bigger.




Photos courtesy of YLakeland