Blog entry from Megan Sturges, President and CEO of JA of Greater Kansas City
On the last day of class, Marcus wasn’t there. He had been the most engaged of the ten students in this session of JA Personal Finance at Wyandotte High School. He was the wise guy of the group. An intelligent young man with insightful questions and sarcastic remarks. He was always joking about something, but he led his classmates in participation. I’ll admit, I was disappointed in his absence and the missed opportunity to say goodbye and wish him luck.
Earlier in the course, we discussed each student’s career aspirations and the education needed to achieve their goals. These students, all male and all minority, dreamed of success as accountants. As the first in their families to attend college, planning and funding an education was uncharted territory. Our lessons covered budgeting, saving, investing, and the many expenses associated with attending post-secondary school. To say these young men were overwhelmed would be an understatement. However, their discouragement slowly transformed into determination as we worked through budget exercises, conducted mock interviews, and practiced negotiation tactics.
Taking my advice, Marcus decided to apply for his first job to begin saving money for college. I knew he had an initial interview with a clothing retail store, but on this last day of class, I had not heard if he was offered the job. Ten minutes after the start of class, Marcus confidently strutted into the room. He proudly announced, “Ms. Sturges, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have to tell you… I got the job! And I used what you taught us to negotiate my pay!”
The pride I felt in that moment is the pride our volunteers feel in the classroom every semester. Many times, the results of our work at Junior Achievement are seen many years later in the collegiate and professional success of our students after graduation. But on this day, I witnessed the immediate effect of the lessons on Marcus’ future. Our curriculum and volunteers prepare and inspire students to take control of their financial health - building the next generation of leaders, and in this case, well-educated accountants.