July 29, 2022

Black History Spotlight: Angela Haywood is Opening Doors and Creating Opportunity

By B&SC Career Services Team

Black History Spotlight: Angela Haywood is Opening Doors and Creating Opportunity

Angela Haywood has opened the gates for thousands of students heading out into the workforce.

As the Associate Director of Career Services, Haywood works both inside and outside the classroom to provide resources that will help students find not just work, but a career they love.

To a large degree, this means opening doors for her students that hold many potential employees back.

“I believe the number of qualified candidates that miss out on job opportunities because of the gatekeepers is around 60%,” Haywood said. “Many are qualified for the position (they apply for).”

“However, they fail to produce a marketable resume and cover letter that highlights their strengths and accomplishments,” she said. “They do not take the time to prepare for the job interview and think about the questions and how they can sell their skills and abilities to that employer.”

That is where Haywood steps in. She and her staff teach students the skills that help them to breeze through previously closed doors.

In some instances, she even ensures her students have the right interview attire.

Haywood helped to launch Gayle’s Closet in 2019 at the Hampton and Virginia Beach campuses after realizing that many students didn’t have interview-ready wardrobes. There they can find men’s suits, dress shirts, ties, women’s skirts, pants suits, blouses, and even dress shoes to use for free.

The closet was named in honor of Gayle Cheeks-Harrell, a veteran, vocational counselor, and friend of the college. When she passed away in 2019, her son donated her professional clothing to help dress students for success. Haywood said Gayle’s fashion sense and passion for helping others lives on as those students receive a mental boost before they enter the interview.

Gayle’s Closet has continued to grow since it opened. Donations from alumni, staff and the community have allowed men and women to continue to find professional interview attire and has since expanded beyond Bryant & Stratton and to the community of Hampton Roads.

“It’s important for job seekers to feel confident walking into a job interview. They feel confident that they look their best, that they have a marketable resume, that they have researched the organization and the position that they’re applying for, and they have all the necessary tools to be able to set themselves apart from all other job applicants,” she said.

By readying her students, she has also helped create a community that is filled with well-prepared employees.

“It’s through cultivating those employer relationships that I am able to help that employer identify the best candidate to fill their positions while simultaneously helping our graduates launch a new career,” she said.

Since arriving at Bryant & Stratton College 27 years ago, Haywood said she has enjoyed watching students grow and succeed. The college helped Haywood find her own success story, in fact.

Her first job at the school was as a part-time receptionist. The campus director recommended her for a job in admissions. She realized later that he saw her potential, even if she couldn’t.

“I moved into that position, and I discovered skills and abilities I didn’t know I had. I discovered I enjoyed talking to people, getting to know them, hearing their long, short and long-term goals,” she said. “Their stories inspired me, and it struck something inside of me to want to help them succeed.

As the leadership at Bryant & Stratton allowed her to grow and reinvent herself, Haywood said, it also allowed her to help students grow and “move into careers that changed the trajectory of their families,” she said.

“I became very good at my job. It took passion, compassion, determination, and commitment. Those are all qualities that I have now that I utilize in my role as the associate director of career services at Bryant & Stratton College,” she said.

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