Southeast Transportation Workforce Center

Choosing Transportation: Jaila Kimbro - Senior, T-STEM Academy at East High School

 high school female portrait

There is much discussion about how K-12 students make decisions about college and career pathways and just what it is that entices them to consider specific fields, such as transportation, to pursue. To learn more about this decision-making process, the ITE STEM Committee interviewed Jaila Kimbro, a senior at the Transportation-STEM (T-STEM) Academy at East High School in Memphis, Tennessee. The T-STEM Academy provides a unique industry-engaged learning experience for its students with a true STEM-for-all model that includes academic concentrations including diesel mechanics, aviation, and STEM. Read on to learn more about Jaila’s experience and future plans!


Q: You have had the opportunity to attend a really unique high school (T-STEM). Why did you decide to attend?

In the 8th grade, I was weighing options about where to go for high school. What appealed to me about T-STEM was that it felt more family-like, from the students to the teachers and administration. I wasn’t sure if I was interested in STEM. But, I was really excited about all of the different program pathways offered at T-STEM. The resources were unparalleled as compared to other schools I visited. You can also earn industry certifications (I earned OSHA certification in my freshman year!) and take dual enrollment courses.

I have always been interested in trying new things. I wanted to learn what I was interested in (and what I was not). There is so much opportunity to try things you have never seen or learned about before at T-STEM. You may fail, or may not like something, but you still learn from this experience. The opportunities I have had at T-STEM and the guidance over the years from faculty helped me to figure out what I enjoy.

Click here to view the full ITE Spotlite (scroll down in the newsletter to read Jaila's Story)!


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Click here to download speaker bios.

Check out our Transportation Workforce Playbooks!

SETWC and numerous partners have developed two transportation workforce focused playbooks.  The Women in Transportation Playbook highlights best practices and strategies for increasing the number of women pursuing transportation professions.  The T-STEM Academy Playbook showcases the T-STEM Academy at East High School and describes the process and key elements that have led to the programs launch and success over a very short period of time. Thank you to all of our industry, education, and community partners!  Download your copy today by clicking on the images below!

Women in Transportation Playbook

T-STEM Academy Playbook











These documents are disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange under cooperative agreement number DTFH6114H00025. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This material does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this material only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document. They are included for informational purposes only and are not intended to reflect a preference, approval, or endorsement of any one product or entity.

Transportation Spotlights

SETWC has developed a series of profiles to help students and prospective workers learn more about transportation careers. These engaging, high-interest materials showcase transportation professionals from a variety of occupations along different points of their career paths. Check them out below!spotlight image

  • Catalina Echeverri, Project Manager, Gannett Fleming, Inc.
  • Liesel Goethert, Senior Transportation Planner, KCI Technologies, Inc.
  • Bernadette Gray, Managing Director, Freight Analysis, FedEx Freight
  • Steve Allen, Director, Strategic Transportation Investments Division, Tennessee Department of Transportation
  • Victoria McDaniel, Associate, Logistics Client & Talent Solutions, Vaco
  • Dr. Dongmei "Maggie" Lin, Transportation Engineer, DKS Associates
  • Lisa Dunn, Program Monitor Supervisor, Tennessee Department of Transportation
  • Jeffrey J. P. Land, Attorney, Jeffrey J.P. Land Attorney at Law
  • Jamey Kitlinski, Administrative Assistant to the Managing Director, Harrisburg District Operations, FedEx Freight
  • Virginia Epperly, PE, Complex Structures Engineer, Virginia Department of Transportation
  • Michael Rebick, PE, ITS Project Engineer, TRC Engineers
  • Richard Mallory, Account Executive, Mallory Alexander International Logistics
  • Jameo D. Pollock, MEd, Statewide Technical Training Manager, Virginia Department of Transportation
  • JaMichael Smith, Commercial Operations Analyst, MARS Petcare, Inc.
  • Patrick Son, Managing Director, National Operations Center of Excellence
  • Keith Williams, PE, PTOE, District Traffic Engineer, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
  • Katie Blose, Regional Safety and Compliance Manager, DBi Services, LCC
  • Chelsea S. Jackson, Core Development Program Business Associate, Virginia Department of Transportation
  • Jessi Jones, Cargo Specialist Supervisor-OTR, Intermodal Cartage Company
  • Kayla Holcomb, Transportation Operations Specialist, Gannett Fleming
  • Doreen Ng-Sui-Hing, EIT, District Project Controls Engineer, Virginia Department of Transportation
  • Greg Dotson, Engineering Manager, Neel Schaffer, Inc.
  • Donna Mooney, Vice President of HR, Titan Transfer
  • Jason McCartney, Senior Transportation Operations Engineer, Gannett Fleming
  • Janet Luessenheide, Traffic Engineer Technician, City of Overland Park, Kansas
  • Paul Young, Director, Division of Housing and Community Development for the City of Memphis
  • Tony Kratofil, Metro Region Engineer, Michigan's Department of Transportation
  • Calvin Abram, Office of Community Transportation, Tennessee Department of Transportation
  • Pete Reddan, Assistant Chief of Instruction, CTI Professional Flight Training


Click here for information on how to get involved!  This document will explain how to get started on your own transportation spotlight, how to nominate the next spotlight, or help you explain the next steps to your colleagues. Please email Meredith.Powers@memphis.edu with any questions.

National Transportation Career Pathways Initiative

The National Network for the Transportation Workforce (NNTW) is undertaking an FHWA-sponsored National Transportation Career Pathways Initiative (NTCPI) to address workforce challenges related to the limited pipeline of potential workers, evolving job requirements, and poor visibility and understanding of transportation career pathways. The initiative focuses on priority occupations in the following five areas: Engineering, Environment, Operations, Planning, and Safety. The NTCPI project includes identification of priority occupations, skill and competency requirements, and available training or education programs followed by development of career pathways and demonstration program plans to address workforce challenges in priority occupations within each focus area.

SETWC is leading the NTCPI Operations focus, and has formed a Discipline Working Group of industry experts to inform the initiative.

  • The list of priority occupations can be viewed here.
  • Review findings from the national stakeholder survey here.
  • All transportation operations stakeholders also have the opportunity to review the resulting competency models and provide feedback. Review the year 1 executive summary and data here.
  • Learn more about this national initiative here!

SETWC and the National Network for Transportation Workforce

Who We Are

The University of Memphis (UofM) is the home of the Southeast Transportation Workforce Center (SETWC) and is part of the National Network for Transportation Workforce. The national network was established in 2014 through funding from the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).  The program included 5 regional centers hosted at the UofM, the University of Vermont, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Montana State University and California State University- Long Beach. The network structure allows sharing of best practices and leveraging of resources across the nation to improve transportation workforce outcomes. 

Vision, Mission & Goals

The vision of SETWC is that the work of the center in concert with regional partners will lead to a right-sized, career-ready transportation workforce being produced in the southeast region.

The mission of SETWC is to coordinate existing regionally based programs, plans, and processes and to strategically create partnerships to ensure that students and persons seeking workforce reentry, career transition, or career advancement are aware of opportunities, required education, skills, training, and ladders to success within the regional transportation workforce.

The goals of SETWC include:

  • Identify regional transportation job needs and priorities
  • Catalog existing training programs from K-12 through professional development
  • Identify education and training gaps
  • Develop partnerships and initiatives to bridge identified gaps
  • Fully engage regional stakeholders to showcase successful programs and practices and to increase impact in the southeast region

Broad Regional Scope, Unique National Expertise

SETWC serves a 12-state region in the southeastern United States as well as Puerto Rico. While the center addresses the broad goals of transportation workforce development throughout the region, it also focuses on the following areas of national expertise:

  • Diversity (particularly women in transportation)
  • Freight (including rail, truck, warehousing and logistics)
  • Transportation operations.

For a printable version of our fact sheet, please click here.

This material is based upon work supported by the Federal Highway Administration under Agreement No. DTFH6114H00025 & DTFH6116H00030. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Federal Highway Administration.