2 UVa Grads Launch Non-Profit Connecting Career Speakers with Students

August 5, 2014

DreamWakers.org, founded in Charlottesville, uses resources like Skype and Google Hangout to connect business leaders with students.

The program was piloted at the Boys and Girls Club in Charlottesville and has now made its way into Staunton public schools and is continuing to spread.

"We thought, well it's so easy to get people into classes with free technology, now we know a network of really cool people, why don't we start something to put it together," says co-founder Annie Medaglia.

Medaglia, who's in her 2nd year at UVa Darden School of Business and Monica Gray, a UVa graduate came up with the idea to offer a free service that allows teachers to access a network of prevetted career speakers placing them virtually into any public school classroom across the country.

"A number of students in America today just generally really don't have access to a number of working professionals and so what DreamWakers does is just try to provide them with a number of people they might not otherwise know about," said Gray.

So instead of just reading about economics or politics teachers can enhance their curriculum by virtually bringing in a stock broker or local politician into their classrooms.

"This is kind of the beauty of it, anyone who does it, we're fascinated by all sorts of jobs, whether you're an engineer, whether you're a painter, whether you're a retiree," said Gray.

Even jobs in the finance industry.

Lee Robertson, in his second year at Darden, is a DreamWaker speaker.

He spent his summer as an investment banker.

"I mean I don't really see any reason not to do it," he says.

Robertson hopes to use his experience to encourage students to make the most of their education.

"I did not love math when i was going through it, my younger sister was always better at math than I was but I think its really important to be good and interested in math and science especially," said Robertson.

"We hope that this will give kids everywhere access to people who are really interesting to them and it'll give them a way to think about what they want to become," said Medaglia.

The founders hope to expand the organization nationally and are currently in talks with teachers in Kentucky, South Carolina, and California.

The organization is also looking for anyone interested in becoming a speaker.

For more information about DreamWakers or how to sign up to become a speaker, click the link on the side of the page.

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