BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A new workforce program is giving East Baton Rouge Parish High School students the opportunity real-world experience and employment.

“Success is when opportunity meets preparation,” said businessman and author Zig Ziglar.

East Baton Rouge students have been given the opportunity of a lifetime as they match up with employers from across the parish.

“I’m so happy because I finally get to experience my dream career of one day becoming a lawyer,” expressed Woodlawn High School Senior Talaja Kennison.

Kennison was overjoyed to meet her new mentor, Judge Ronald Johnson of the 19th Judicial District Court.

“I thought it was critically important that we invest in our students,” said Judge Johnson. “As a Judge of the 19th, I see individuals in our courts every day, and we want the support of our students who are desirous of becoming attorneys as well as judges.”

Nearly 150 Seniors were paired with a local company to gain real world experience in their desired field of study.

“I want to make a difference and I have to power to,” said Kennison.

The interns will work a total of 155 hours at their specific jobs over several months to earn a school credit while making a wage.

“A part of our vision was to begin this internship program where we said we wanted to not only give kids the opportunity experiences in high school, but to make sure they get paid more than they would get paid with minimum wage,” said East Baton Rouge Schools Superintendent Dr. Sito Narcisse.

“She [Kennison] would be off working with our staff attorneys and our judicial assistants. And then she will also be sitting in court while our hearings are being conducted,” Judge Johnson explained “So she sees the daily operations of the judge, what the judge does, and what the staff attorney does.”

From businesses to hospitals, each student was strategically placed with a company that reflected their choice of study.

“It’s to develop talent in the capital region aimed toward those high demand, high paying, high growth areas of work,” stated Baton Rouge Area Chamber Senior Vice President of Policy Trey Godfrey.

“Why not create a space where kids will not only learn but also get paid to do it?” asked Dr. Narcisse.

Godfrey with BRAC said it is not only good for the seniors, but also creates a pipeline for the future of the state.

“We hope that this is a new model of beginning to develop talent in the capital region aimed toward those high demand, high paying, high growth areas of work,” he said.

“We’re just enthused about doing what we do to support the school system and our students in this parish,” said Judge Johnson.

“I can’t wait,” added Kennison.

The students will work in their positions all year long until they graduate in May.