Dr. Juliet Breeze, Founder and CEO of Next Level Urgent Care, is setting a precedent for us. She will be the first M.D. to Chair the Board of Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas. We don’t often think of Doctors as entrepreneurs, so we asked Dr. Breeze to share a little about her journey, and why she’s so passionate about the future of JA in our community.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t exposed to Junior Achievement as a student. Instead, I watched my father navigate the world of owning his own company, having employees and running a facility. Not everyone has a front row seat watching an entrepreneur operate their daily business. I was very lucky, and it simply became a part of who I am. I didn’t learn about Junior Achievement until I was an adult.”
JA caught Juliet’s attention the same way thousands of other parents have been introduced. “One day, my children came home talking about this amazing experience where they had operated a simulated business, received paychecks, and worked their way through several real world business problems. I realized they had just experienced many of the lessons I had learned first-hand by watching my father. Their enthusiasm started some great conversations in our home, and I learned they had taken part in Junior Achievement’s BizTown. That’s when I started looking more closely at JA.”
“One of the really special things about JA is the incredible variety of ways to be involved personally and get your company involved. I became involved in the JA Company Program, and it was just thrilling to watch kids who never thought they could own a business get together with friends, then start and run a business – a real, money making enterprise. It’s amazing to watch their confidence grow.”
“We also hosted a job shadow at Next Level Urgent care that was especially rewarding. Students had no idea how many wonderful jobs there are in the medical profession aside from being a Doctor.” All the many JA initiatives share a common potential and promise. “No matter a child’s background, JA allows them to experience real life lessons about money, our economy and business that can set them on a path that’s going to change their life.”
3DE by Junior Achievement, our transformative high school program is another exciting initiative Juliet talked about. In 3DE, teachers and business volunteers work together, connecting live business case challenges to traditional school curriculum. “Junior Achievement is on the cutting edge of refining and reforming how we teach high school students. There’s nothing that makes more sense than giving students context for what they are learning in school, then applying that learning to build relevance to the real world.” 3DE is growing an impressive track record of preparing students for careers in a work environment that is expected to be defined by transformation. The ability to think critically and apply knowledge in new ways are examples of key skills being developed by students participating in 3DE.
We also asked Juliet about one of our most ambitious projects on our board’s agenda. After 20 years, and visits from a few hundred thousand students, our flagship center of teaching free enterprise and financial literacy learning needs some attention. “Everyone on the board is especially excited about updating our JA Discovery Center. The idea of bringing thousands of kids together, from all parts of our community, in a fabulous, updated center is so exciting. Our entire board is working together to build a showpiece for the future of our community’s children.” Originally built as a pilot program, Houston’s JA BizTown and Finance Park proved so successful that they inspired over two dozen similar Discovery Centers across our nation. Houston’s facility, once the flagship of the JA fleet, is now the oldest and most in need of modernization.
“I feel very fortunate. I found an organization that really does speak to things that are extremely important to me. The future of our kids, the future of our country, the future of our economy…. I don’t think I can overstate the importance of business people and adults in our community taking a hard look and asking ‘What can we do, how can we help to make this a prosperous future for our children and their children?'"
That is an excellent question. If you are inspired to help build a better future for the young people in our community, we would love to hear from you. We are always seeking to connect with those who want to share their time, talent or treasure to build better tomorrows for our local students!