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Where Are our Young Adults Going?

Earlier this year in February of 2016 I had the chance to speak with the Washington

County Treasurer Mr. Parker. I discussed with him about the investments he makes to

improve Washington County. He told me that “we don’t make much (concerning money),

but we don’t make mistakes in investments.” He alluded to how Southwest Virginia as a

whole has a “brain drain” issue concerning the workforce. Mr. Parker talked about how

this issue dwindles down to affect small rural areas like Washington County and the

investments the county makes a whole.

I also spoke with the town of Abingdon treasurer, Chuck Banner about this issue. During

my time with Banner he agreed with Parker's statement saying, “I would love to agree

with what he says.” In my discussion with Banner he talked about how sad it is to see

younger adults leave the area and he only desires to find ways to improve the

population of younger adults. Banner would then start to turn the interview on me and

ask me questions on how I feel as a 21-year-old college student about SWVA. I had the

decency to tell him the truth on what I think about SWVA, which is much like a Emory

and Henry student I interviewed about this issue, Chaz Jones. I think the area has great

people, but poor opportunities.

While trying to leave my own opinion out of equation, I reached out to multiple

students that attend Emory and Henry to understand the general reason why so many

students leave the area after graduation. Many students ended up telling me that they

loved the southern hospitality, but they knew that there were better opportunities,

attractions and jobs in other areas.

Emory & Henry senior Chaz Jones, who is a beloved student on campus. Everyday
Chaz rapidly walks to class while frequently waiving at peers from a distance with a

warm grin on his face giving many high-fives and hugs. Chaz tells me about his plans

and anticipation for graduation.

Chaz Jones will graduate with a major in pre law and he plans to continue his education

in law school. When talking to him about his dream job he became very hesitant. He

was not sure exactly what he wanted to do but, he knew that he wanted to be involved

in law. Chaz Jones childhood starts in Northwood Virginia. Northwood is a place that

consists of a grocery store and a couple of gas stations. Chaz explains Northwood as a

“phenomenal place.” Phyllis Coleford also known as “Tia”, a distant relative whom Chaz

appreciated raised him. Coleford was a disciplinarian, who raised her children by the

rod. Coleford was the type of woman who would make her kids go out to the yard and

pick out their switch. She was a woman who also protected her children by standing up

for them as well. Chaz was also very close to his next-door neighbors known as the

Buchanan’s. He spent a lot of time with the Buchanan's growing up. Many times Chaz

would be including in their family events, trips and many more.

When Chaz became a senior in high school he had plans to go to college to further his

education. Chaz was a stand out in the classroom and out the classroom graduating as

a valedictorian and lettering in 18 sports. Chaz was named as the 2013 VHSL athlete of

the year due to his success in multiple sports in high school.

When Chaz entered college in the fall of 2013, he was already a sophomore due to his

jumpstart in high school. Many of his classes in high school consisted of dual credit

college class. Chaz had declared his major shortly into his college career in pre law and
history. He is now a member of the Pi Gamma Mu, Phi Eta Sigma, and the College

Republican club. While Chaz is on his last lap at Emory & Henry he warned me that he

wanted to take things slow after college. Chaz talked to me about the plans and goals

he wishes to accomplish after graduation and one of them is to go international for a

vacation. He wants to see more than just Southwest Virginia stating, “I want to get out

there and explore.” Once his break is over he plans to start up with law school, and

graduate as soon as possible to get his feet wet in the workforce. Chaz is not sure

exactly what he wants to do with his pre law degree, but he wants to explore many

options. In my interview with Chaz I got to ask him if he feels a sense of commitment to

the Southwest Virginia area once he graduates from pre law school. He tilted his head

left then right and took a deep breath and said, “ I don’t have no problem with

Southwest Virginia, I wouldn’t say I am necessarily committed.” He explained how he

defiantly loves the area, but he doesn’t feel a commitment to stay. Chaz went on to

describe his standing with Southwest Virginia saying, “that my biggest problem is the

general lack of economic opportunity in decades past” he exclaimed that it has come to

affect his generation and everyone knows it. Chaz would then go on a more positive

note and talk about the beautiful nature and people of the area. Stating that, “the people

in the community are just phenomenal.” Chaz would share with me the love he has for

the area regarding the laid back culture, but on the other hand he also recognizes that

Southwest Virginia is set back in its own way as a very traditional place. Chaz would

then go on to say, “That there is not a lot of doors you can continually open in this area.”

Chaz Jones will walk across the stage May 11, 2016. As a fellow student I will say
that I am very proud of him and I hope he finds his dream job whether if it is in SWVA or

out. Finally when speaking with Chuck Banner He alluded to how he would want the

best opportunity for his daughter, Taylor Banner, even if it included her leaving the

misfortunate land of Southwest Virginia.