JA’s proven programs have been shown to positively impact the lives of young people. Learn why JA Alumni are more likely to have higher levels of educational attainment, feel confident about managing their finances, have career success, and have started a business as an adult.
Junior Achievement is thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Mitch Kuy, a JA alumnus who now lives in Dallas and works for Microsoft as an Azure Specialist.
When his class visited Biz Town, it was his first interaction with Junior Achievement. He was reintroduced to JA, thanks to a friend involved in JA Company Programs who enlisted Mitch to assist with the JA Trade Fair. After the Trade Fair, he said he was hooked and jumped at the opportunity to volunteer with JA. During this time, Mitch continued to be influenced by the numerous entrepreneurs who demonstrated how an idea and implementation could be life-changing. He said it had a life-changing effect on him.
Mitch maintains that his continued innovation in the software space is due to his JA volunteers. If given the opportunity to reconnect with his volunteers, he would say, "Thank you for believing in the youth and demonstrating that there is no secret to hard work. This program and the time you have invested into JA accelerated my career both personally and professionally, and without you or JA, I would not be where I am today".
Mitch explained that the JA pillars of Financial Literacy, Work Readiness, and Entrepreneurship have remained at the forefront of his mind. He has grown older and has evolved into financial freedom, job stability, and entrepreneurship. Even as a young adult, he believes he is more trained in these fields than his more experienced colleagues.
When asked if he had any motivational words for JA participants, Mitch replied, "I will tell them, "There are many ways to achieve success. Some will attend college, while others will attend a trade school or start their own business. However, the hard work and growth mentality are constants in both of these directions. You will be good in whatever you want if you can take an idea, implement it, and keep improving".
Finally, Mitch expressed gratitude to the volunteers and staff who help bring these activities together. These people are making a difference in young people's lives. He is grateful to give back to the organization that helped him.
Have you participated in JA Programs? If so, you're part of the JA Alumni community! Please sign up to join our JA Alumni network, JA Together. This makes it easy to find volunteer opportunities, donate to the mission, and connect with more JA Alumni as we help inspire young people together!
Junior Achievement recently had an opportunity to interview JA Alumni Karina Rodriguez, who currently lives in Spring, TX, with her husband and two sons. Karina was excited to share her JA story.
Her first experience with JA was at BB Rice Elementary and remembers waiting anxiously for a JA volunteer to come to her classroom. The games and activities were always so much fun. Karina also has fond memories of her visits to BizTown. While at BizTown, she remembers working in the bank and at the restaurant and often wondered if that played a part in working in a bank and restaurant before becoming a nurse.
When asked if she had ever had the opportunity to reconnect with her JA volunteers, she said no. But given a chance, she would say, “thank you for taking time out of your day to spend with my class and for making my school day fun with all the JA activities.” She would also share how their volunteering brightened her day and significantly impacted her path in life. She felt inspired by her volunteers always to go above and beyond. After becoming a registered nurse, Karina decided to go back to school to become a Family Nurse Practitioner and is thankful for the life skills learned through JA at such a young age.
When asked what inspiring words she would like to share with students currently receiving JA in their classroom, she said, “I would tell them to listen closely to the JA lessons/skills that the volunteer is teaching as they will come in handy in life.” Karina said, “I would also express the importance of thanking their volunteer for spending the day with them.”
Junior Achievement would like to thank Karina Rodriguez for sharing her JA experience and our JA volunteers for their time and dedication in Inspiring Tomorrows for students!
As we near the close of October, we wanted to take the time to highlight some extraordinary JA alumni! Our first spotlight is Isabela Overturf. A student at Claremont McKenna College majoring in Environmental Analysis and Psychology dual major. Capstone Manager, Karen St. Fort, had the opportunity to see what she's up to and how JA's impact holds value to her today.
Please tell us a little bit about what you’re doing right now, where you live, your background, hobbies, etc. Currently in Austin, although I’m from the Woodlands and usually attend college in California. I was the music director of my a cappella group at college and love to sing, and I also love animals, especially my cat. I worked at my school’s diversity and inclusion center. I currently work at my school’s research institutes for human rights and environmental studies. I’m a big advocate for mental health awareness and social liberties, and I also like video games, especially Pokémon, animal crossing, and super smash bros.
When were you first introduced to JA? Please share your story. I believe my first JA mentor was in third grade when I already hoped to be a geologist because I was fascinated by crystals. We (the class) always loved JA days because it was a break from regular school to do something more fun. My fourth-grade JA mentor was the most influential to me.
How did your JA volunteer impact/inspire you? Do you remember their name or the company they were with? His name is Mr. Andrew Melhop, and he worked with Anadarko as a geologist (or something similar) in 2009-10 when I was in fourth grade. He was really fun and engaging with us and didn’t feel condescending when he worked with us. On his last day, he brought us all-natural salt rocks, which (with my love of crystals) I thought was sooo cool.
Have you ever reconnected with your JA volunteer to share the impact they had while volunteering in your classroom? Yes! I followed up with him later that same year for a fourth-grade career day project, and I got to visit him at his office in the Woodlands Anadarko building and interview him about his job. It inspired me to continue my path of environmental study. Once, my dad and I sent him a hematite sample we collected in Michigan because we had plenty and thought it was pretty cool.
What made your JA experience meaningful? I think I felt a little out of place in fourth grade wanting to study earth sciences in the future because everyone else seemed to have vastly different desires, like being a doctor or an athlete. It was impactful to see a friendly, successful, and engaging adult whom I was able to interview so I could learn more at a young age about what it was I was interested in. I feel lucky to have had the experience because I know how many people, even students my age, struggle to decide what to pursue. Still, I had a strong experience at a young age that kept me on this path.
Did you have other JA volunteers after elementary? I may have in fifth/sixth, but I’m not too sure.
What inspiring words would you like to share with those who may not be familiar with JA? Kids, especially those in under-resourced areas, can benefit from having lively and engaging role models besides their teachers and their parents. It can be challenging for children to get the opportunity to explore things like leadership, money, and teamwork without an extraordinary effort or program like JA. Plus, elementary school students are easy enough to engage with (bring them pizza or salt rocks, and they like you) that I feel like the possibilities of mentorship are endless.
What is the most important thing you feel you can share with other people about being a JA Alumni? I know not every student had an experience like mine, but the chance of it happening to even a few kids with each program makes it all worth it. It seemed to be enjoyable for Mr. Melhop, too, and he has profoundly impacted my future by providing me a real, successful example of what I wanted to be.