JA Alumni Spotlight

Junior Achievement Gives Student the Tools to Overcome Odds

Selena Martinez was a senior at John H. Reagan High School in Houston, Texas, when she was asked to speak at the JA Hall of Achievement for Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas and shared this story:

I was homeless after my older brother, who had been medically discharged from the army for schizophrenia, attacked my father and destroyed our home and everything in it. I thought, this was it for me. Until a JA volunteer came to my high school.

JA came right when I needed it. The JA volunteer spoke about the importance of money management and budgeting. He taught us about interviewing for jobs, too. These were lessons that were not a part of my school or home life. Before he left, he encouraged us to keep pushing forward and to never stop because life was not going to wait on us.

I applied everything I learned from my three JA experiences. I began selling my artwork and custom T-shirts to generate income. I became class president, captain of the varsity cheer squad, and a vice president of the National Honor Society.

I recently began attending Bryn Mawr College. JA gave me belief in myself. My future has been paved, not with limits, but by how great I was willing to be.

View Selena's JA Hall of Achievement speech below. She recently appeared on PBS' national American Graduate Day broadcast to talk about her JA story.