Shavar Bland’s Best Advice for Helping Young People? Listen.

Posted by Monica Hoel
Shavar Bland was set on being a teacher, but he has found a different path for helping young people.

Shavar was an accounting major at Emory & Henry, but his plans for getting a job in accounting changed when his father got sick and he ended up back home in Virginia’s Peninsula to tend to family matters. His dad found him a job as a substitute teacher, and Shavar loved it. He soon transitioned into a full time math teaching role with coaching responsibilities on the side.

But as much as he loved teaching, he is now serving young people as a Family Services Specialist within the Department of Human Services for the City of Newport News. He’s also an advocate for youth by working as the staff advisor to the Newport News Mayor’s Youth Commission.

Shavar says he has his phone on 24-7 to respond to young people with ideas or needs, and he is struck by how much these young people want to make a difference in their city.

He works tirelessly to provide programming that supports their development – offering leadership opportunities and life skills. One of the programs he loves to offer is called “Adulting 101” and it teaches some basic life skills like money matters, managing time, communication skills, and how to present yourself at a job interview. He even includes a review of basic skills like cooking, changing a tire, and doing laundry. At the mention of laundry, Shavar laughs out loud. “When I got to Emory I had never washed my own clothes. My mama was from North Carolina and that was just the culture! My roommate was in the same boat – so we looked at each other and decided we needed to figure this out!”

He says he learned far more than laundry skills at Emory & Henry. He played basketball, and he says Coach Johnson taught him about responsibility. “I made a mistake of being late to practice once…but only once.”

But his respect for community service was ingrained long before college: that he learned from watching his parents. “Being a Bonner Scholar just seemed like a perfect fit. My family has always been really involved with community service. One of the gifts my mom has given me is the ability to get a lot done in a day. My mom can get it done!

Shavar says there are many ways for all of us to support young people, but his number one piece of advice is simple: “Adults need to listen.” He says it’s easy to be dismissive of young people, but the truth is that they are facing a lot of personal and societal challenges. And they are also confronting a lot of social justice realities that older generations have not yet solved. “Mental health is a number one concern for young people – and the pressures they’re under with AP testing, college admissions, finances, and societal pressures is real.”

In fact, one of his best pieces of advice for young people is also great advice for all of us: “Never judge your success off of the success of someone else.”

You can enjoy a conversation with Shavar in the WEHC-FM archives. Interviews are listed in alphabetical order: https://archive.org/details/OntheDuckPondWall

  • Shavar Bland, Emory & Henry Class of 2008

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/893-emory-henry-made-all-the-difference"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg" alt="Rachel Harrison, E&H Class of 2019, at the duck pond. Dr. Foye Gibson, by the way, was the E" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/531,147,2220,1835/6551_66257874_2424062467823220_760622803857702912_n.rev.1563304661.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1689" data-max-h="1688" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/893-emory-henry-made-all-the-difference">Emory & Henry Made All the Difference</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Rachel Harrison (E&H ’19) gleaned the full Emory & Henry experience before graduating. <a href="/live/news/893-emory-henry-made-all-the-difference" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>