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Q&A with 2018 TCS NYC Marathon Runner, Cristina Carrazza

Cristina Carrazza, 27, will be completing her third marathon this November with Team
 JA New York. Check out why Junior Achievement's mission supports her career, how training has affected her life, who will be singing in her headphones as she crosses the finish line, and more!  


Q: How did you get involved with JA New York?
A: I am a developmental psychologist and my research focuses on promoting children’s early math learning. Through my work, I know just how important math competence is for helping children fulfill their potential. My father used to be a JA teacher while he was in business school and introduced me to the organization. It felt serendipitous to combine my love for running and passion for math education and join Team JA New York as I train for my dream race.
 
Q: Why did you decide to run the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon?
A: The NYC Marathon has always been my dream race. There is something magical about shutting down the greatest city in the world and running 26.2 through all five boroughs with 50,000 strangers. With 3 other marathons under my belt, I finally feel ready to tackle those Central Park hills and make this dream a reality. 
 
Q: Who/what is your biggest motivation to train?
A: Proving that little voice in my head that tells me I’m too slow/lazy/loser wrong. Also, the indescribable glory that comes from crossing a finish line.
 
Q: How do you measure success as a runner?
A: Accomplishing something I didn’t think I could do – whether that is running longer, faster, or stronger - and embracing the fact that “success” means something different for each race. 
 
Q: What is the best running/training lesson you’ve learned?
A: Long distance running has shown me endless times that I can do hard things. It’s not about time or speed but about finishing something arduous and not giving up when it gets hard. Every day I put in the work to make the impossible a little more accessible. 
 
Q: What is the most challenging part of marathon training?
A: Early alarms on hot summer days. My friends might also mention the fact that my social life is now nonexistent or that I seem to only talk about training. 
 
Q: What are your favorite pre- and post-run meals?
A: Start bland with toast, peanut butter, banana, and coffee. Finish by treating yourself to the breakfast you promised yourself 3 hours into a long run that pushed you to the finish. 
 
Q: What are some songs on your favorite running playlist?
A: “Error Operator” by Taking Back Sunday, “All I Want” by A Day to Remember, Pitbull’s early catalogue, and of course “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys as I visualize myself crossing the finish line in Central Park come November.  
 
Click here to support Cristina's campaign for JA New York!
 

Q&A with 2018 TCS NYC Marathon Runner, Sean Hall

Runners from across the pond have joined Team JA New York! Sean Hall, 31, will be traveling from London for the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon. Check out Sean's running motivation, favorite post-run snack, and the importance of good running shoes.

 
Q: How many other marathons have you run?   
A: This is my first one and I’m so excited. I’m from London so I even upgraded my plane ticket over, so I can enjoy the whole experience. 
 
Q: How did you get involved with JA New York?  
A: A friend of a friend works for this wonderful charity and as soon as I heard about them, I couldn’t wait to sign up. 
 
Q: Why did you decide to run the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon?
A: I have never run a marathon before, but I have always had huge respect for anyone who completes one. Coming from the UK, it’s also extra exciting to be running it in another city. It’s also great motivation to train and live a healthy lifestyle.   
 
Q: Who/what is your biggest motivation to train?
A: I’ll be running the marathon with my best friend Michael who will not let me forget about it if he beats me. Each run that I go on, I think about losing to him, which spurs me on! 
 
Q: How do you measure success as a runner?
A: You set a personal goal and then you go out there and try to achieve that. There will always be someone faster, better or stronger than you, but you need to set your own targets and then try to smash them. I’ve set a target of running the Marathon in under 4 hours so each training session I run that little bit harder and little bit faster. 
 
Q: What is the best running/training lesson you’ve learned?
A: Running in the correct pair of trainers. I always had aches and pains when I ran in my old trainers until I bought a proper running pair. Now it’s like running on a cloud and just have to work on my fitness!
 
Q: What is the most challenging part of marathon training?
A: Finding the energy to go to the gym or get out there on the roads. It’s so easy to skip a run, but you’re only cheating yourself. It’s a mental challenge. Knowing you have to run a 14k or a 16k today is daunting, but you just have to do it. Not every run will be your best run, but it all counts. 
 
Q: What are your favorite pre- and post-run meals?
A: My favorite post meal is a peanut butter protein shake! It’s not really a meal and I shouldn’t be allowed to have one a lot but it’s so nice after a run!
 
Q: What are some songs on your favorite running playlist?
A: I haven’t found my perfect running playlist yet. I’m in desperate need of suggestions!!
(JA New York recommends checking out fellow runner Max's playlist here!)
 
Click here to support Sean's campaign for Junior Achievement of New York!

Q&A with 2018 TCS NYC Marathon Runner, Max Roberts

Meet Max Roberts, 25, a member of Team JA New York! The 2018 TCS NYC Marathon will be Max's first marathon. We chatted with him about how he got involved with Junior Achievement, what motivates him to run, his favorite training tunes, and more! 
 
Q: How did you get involved with JA New York?
A: I wanted to put my love of running to good use and give back to the community. My dad knew someone at JA New York and it seemed like a great cause, so I asked to sign up.
 
Q: Why did you decide to run the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon?
A: I started doing triathlons three years ago and have been building up my distances ever since. Last year, I did an Olympic-distance triathlon and a half-marathon, so my next step this year was a Half-Ironman and a full marathon. And of course, why wouldn’t I want to run in New York City?!
 
Q: Who/what is your biggest motivation to train?
A: People who tell me “you can’t.” Sometimes, I tell that to myself, so I get myself out there and prove myself and others wrong. Also, it’s just fun!
 
Q: How do you measure success as a runner?
A: Finishing the race and running faster and longer than I did the year before.
 
Q: What is the best running/training lesson you’ve learned?
A: To take it easy when I need to. It’s very easy in this lifestyle to be “go-go-go” all the time. It’s hard to tell yourself that it’s okay for your legs to rest, or if you weren’t as fast on a given day because you were sore from training the previous day, but you have to find a way to do that. Yoga is helpful to this end.
 
Q: What is the most challenging part of marathon training?
A: Trying to fit everything in! Training for longer distances can be very time-consuming and it requires a lot of early mornings or late nights. Also, the soreness.
 
Q: What are your favorite pre- and post-run meals?
A: If I run in the morning:
Pre-Run – Oatmeal with raisins, rice milk, two scoops of peanut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and blueberries, along with some orange juice.
Post-Run – Salad with kale, brown rice, apples, sweet potatoes, parmesan cheese, grilled chicken, almonds, and balsamic vinaigrette (I usually go to Sweetgreen for this), along with a chocolate protein shake.
 
Q: What are some songs on your favorite running playlist?
A: “Maniac” – Michael Sembello (the song from Flashdance), “Don’t Stop Runnin’” – Y&T, “Gonna Fly Now” (the theme from Rocky), “You’re The Best” (the theme from Karate Kid)…I feel like I could just say “80’s Movie Themes” and that would work. You can also check out my full running playlist here!

 
Click here to support Max's campaign for Junior Achievement of New York!

2017-18 Student Reflections

We asked our 2017-18 Student of the Year and Student Ambassadors to reflect on their senior year of high school and share the impact Junior Achievement of New York has had on their lives. Read about their JA experiences below.

Usman Ghani, 2018 Graduate of High School of Economics and Finance

Junior Achievement of New York’s 2017-2018 Student of the Year is Muhammad ‘Usman’ Ghani, a graduating senior at the High School of Economics and Finance. Usman’s experience as Student of the Year and his participation in programs including Job Shadows and Be Entrepreneurial have provided him with opportunities he might not have had without JA.

 

In addition to forming bonds with executives at top finance institutions and practicing his public speaking and leadership skills, Usman now has a solid foundation of personal finance knowledge, entrepreneurial tools, and an understanding of business in general. He is prepared to enter the real world and handle taxes, financial statements, risk taking, decision-making, and so much more – all thanks to his experience with JA.

 

Usman will be attending Middlebury College to study Business and Enterprise, and we cannot wait to see him back in New York City in a few years as an employee of a top financial firm.

 

Jahnia Cherenfant, 2018 Graduate of Brooklyn Preparatory High School

Junior Achievement opens doors for students outside of their classrooms – providing opportunities they might never have. Jahnia Cherenfant from Brooklyn Preparatory High School is a great example of this. As a member of the Junior Achievement club at her high school, Jahnia participated in various JA New York programs that allowed her to truly recognize her full potential.

 

Jahnia was always confident with public speaking, but teaching wasn’t something she had really thought about until JA High School Heroes came along. After teaching JA programming to elementary school students, Jahnia realized she has the capability and skills to captivate a classroom and offer new, important information. She has always been interested in giving back, but her time with JA New York exposed the impact that an organization can have on people. Now, Jahnia plans to stay involved with JA New York, as well as other notable organizations, to ensure that she contributes to the well-being of her community.

 

Next year, Jahnia will attend SUNY Geneseo and explore various career opportunities, from communications to education. We look forward to following Jahnia’s journey, wherever her education may take her.

 

Yeda Dayao, 2018 Graduate of High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies

JA Finance Park is one of JA New York’s most influential capstone programs. Through real-life simulations, middle and high school students practice creating budgets for their housing, transportation, insurance, child care, and more based on randomly assigned personal scenarios.

 

Yeda Dayao, a graduating senior at the High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies, credits her experience at JA Finance Park for filling her with the confidence to budget for herself and make smart economic choices. Now, each time Yeda receives paycheck from her after-school job, she pays herself first by putting some into savings. Then, she separates her wants from her needs and determines how much she can spend on both. Both of these are concepts she learned directly from Junior Achievement.

 

Yeda will be attending York College’s Occupational Therapy program in the fall, and she is confident that she has the knowledge and skills she will need to maintain strong personal finances. She is empowered to take on the real world and all the expenses, both budgeted and unexpected, that come with adulthood – all because of JA New York.   

 

Dechokyab De, 2018 Graduate of High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies

Dechokyab De (De), a graduating senior at the High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies, will be attending Colgate University this fall as a Biochemistry major on track for medical school. De’s experience with JA New York, particularly as a High School Hero and participant in JA Be Entrepreneurial, opened his eyes to the importance of education in one’s life and pushed him to define success for himself and ultimately reach for it.

 

De is graduating high school with a passion for education and an understanding of the skills he will need to transform his education into a successful career. Thanks to his participation in Junior Achievement programs, he has experience teaching elementary school students about personal finance, networking with top business executives, collaborating with his peers, thinking creatively and critically, and so much more.

 

De is empowered to continue his education and turn it into a bright future, and we can’t wait to see what he does.

 

Nicole Hernandez, 2018 Graduate of Academy of Finance and Enterprise

Nicole Hernandez, a graduating senior at the Academy of Finance and Enterprise, was first introduced to Junior Achievement of New York as a 9th grader. Like most freshmen in high school, Nicole didn’t have an innate sense of personal finance or a concrete plan for her future. JA New York, however, provided Nicole with various opportunities to change this.

 

Nicole participated in Job Shadows, Finance Park, the JA New York Business Plan Competition, and High School Heroes. From exploring the ins and outs of various companies to passing down JA lessons to elementary school students, Nicole got hands-on experience fine-tuning the skills she needs to take control of her future.

 

Now, Nicole has an understanding of how to manage money effectively, how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace, and the value of giving back to her community. JA New York’s programs and volunteers have inspired Nicole to become a passionate leader in her future and empowered her to know she can do exactly what she sets her mind to.

 

We know that Nicole has the skills and determination to become the confident leader she wants to be, and we can’t wait to follow her journey to success.

 

Leianna Joseph, 2018 Graduate of Hillcrest High School

Leianna Joseph, a graduating senior at Hillcrest High School, has known she wants to be a teacher for a long time. But it was her participation in JA New York programs that empowered her to feel she can.

 

As a JA High School Hero, Leianna gained an understanding of what it’s like to stand in front of a classroom and work to make an impact in students’ lives. She is more prepared for the challenges that a career in education brings, and she is confident that each child she teaches will help her grow as an individual and an educator.

 

Although some of Leianna’s friends and family members encouraged her to explore other career options, she has always leaned towards education. And when a JA volunteer told her the best thing she can do for her career is to pursue what she’s passionate about, she became even more inspired to follow her heart towards the classroom.

 

Thanks to JA volunteers and her own time as a High School Hero, Leianna is ready for her new start at St. John’s University for Adolescent Education with a major in Biology. We are thrilled to see where Leianna’s pursuit takes her and the lives she impacts through her own career in education.

 

Kimberly Patino, 2018 Graduate of Richmond Hill High School

For graduating senior at Richmond Hill High School, Kimberly Patino, Junior Achievement has been instrumental in cultivating money management skills at a young age. Though she has always been aware of the importance of budgeting and making smart choices, Kimberly’s participation in JA New York has given her the hands-on experience she needed to become comfortable with these concepts.

 

Now, when Kimberly is out shopping, she stops to think whether she really needs an item, or if her money should go towards helping her mother with their bills. She now sets up spreadsheets to carefully budget her expenses and help her make smart financial decisions.

 

Beginning this summer, Kimberly will be attending a preparatory school for the US Naval Academy, where she will be able to use the decision-making skills and confidence she cultivated during her time with JA New York to succeed, and we are thrilled to see her take on the real world as a prepared and savvy young adult.

 

Franklin Saeteros, 2018 Graduate of Academy of Finance and Enterprise

Franklin Saeteros is a graduating senior from the Academy of Finance and Enterprise, a school that Junior Achievement of New York works very closely with. Franklin is just one student who’s been significantly impacted by JA New York’s programming. The process of becoming a JA Student Ambassador and passing on his financial literacy knowledge to elementary school students through JA High School Heroes have been the most empowering for Franklin.

 

As a JA Student Ambassador, Franklin and his peers were given opportunities to network with top executives, share their stories to a room of almost 400 people, and form a bond with one another as representatives of JA New York in their schools and communities. As a JA High School Hero, Franklin was able to not only teach younger students about money, but he was able to be part of a bigger movement with JA – one that brings important lifelong skills to young people.

 

Most notable for Franklin, JA New York allowed him to share his passion for JA with others, while helping him cultivate his interview, networking, public speaking, and leadership skills. We are so excited to see where these skills take Franklin as he leaves high school for and prepares to start Dickinson College in the fall.

 

Brianna Serna, 2018 Graduate of Cathedral High School

Not all high school students know what they are interested in majoring in when they go to college. Not all students know what type of career they want to pursue after college. Brianna Serna is not one of those students. And she has Junior Achievement of New York to thank for that. A graduating senior from Cathedral High School, Brianna can confidently say she wants to study engineering in college and ultimately open her own business.

 

Engineering has always been her passion, but Brianna’s participation in JA New York opened her eyes to the possibilities of combining engineering with business and all the various job opportunities out there in both fields. JA volunteers helped Brianna form a foundation of entrepreneurship skills through JA Be Entrepreneurial, and she credits them for giving her the inspiration and confidence to know that she can create a business out of her greatest interest.

 

Brianna will be attending New York University Tandon School of Engineering in the fall, and we know she will arrive on her first day with the confidence to reach her full potential and the inspiration to continue to build her personal finance and entrepreneurial skills.

 

Gerald Urena, 2018 Graduate of Freeport High School

For some students, Junior Achievement is a source of inspiration for their careers. For others, it’s a door to college. For Gerald Urena, graduating senior at Freeport High School, Junior Achievement is a lesson in making a difference.

 

Gerald’s most prominent memory with JA New York is High School Heroes. Teaching elementary school students lessons in personal finance opened Gerald’s eyes to the difference he can make in his community and in people’s lives. It was when his students ran up to him begging him not to leave that he realized his teaching impacted them, and that feeling is something he will carry with him forever. Growing up as a shy kid, Gerald typically chose to stay away from the action and avoid being in the spotlight. However, the public speaking and leadership skills that JA High School Heroes helped Gerald cultivate transformed his shyness into a passion for presenting in front of people and taking on leadership roles. Now, Gerald is prepared to enter the real world. He’s prepared to make mistakes, learn from them, and keep moving forward.

 

In the fall, Gerald will be attending NYIT Old Westbury with a goal to become a trauma nurse or trauma doctor. We are thrilled to see the difference Gerald makes in the world as his education continues and career begins.

 

AIG and JA New York: Building a Foundation for the Future

Organizations that are built on volunteer-led programs, such as Junior Achievement of New York (JA New York), thrive in part due to private sector companies that prioritize and encourage a culture of philanthropy. From volunteers to fundraising, in-kind donations to annual grants, businesses of all sizes have a lot to offer non-profit organizations when they put corporate social responsibility at the forefront of their company culture.

JA New York works closely with partner companies to implement programs that help students build a solid foundation of financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness skills – empowering them to make the most of their opportunities in life. One company that JA New York works closely with each year is AIG.  

Since 2013, AIG has provided funding to support Junior Achievement programs globally, serving schools in 24 locations including New York, Texas, Illinois, California, Ireland, Indonesia, South Africa, and many more. As part of the partnership, AIG employees are filling up classrooms with volunteers in addition to supporting various special events from Bowl-A-Thons to annual Galas.

In New York City during the 2017-2018 school year, financial support from AIG helped to deliver JA programs in over 130 classes at 17 schools across the metro area. That means over 3,000 students received direct, hands-on programming specially designed to inspire, empower, and prepare them for their futures.

Earlier this year, AIG volunteers delivered a hands-on curriculum to middle school students from School 5 in Yonkers, NY. They helped students build a foundation for making intelligent, lifelong personal financial decisions through an experiential simulation with budgets, salaries, and various family scenarios. AIG volunteers also spent a day in the classroom introducing financial literacy to kindergarten students at PS 86 in the Bronx. This program uses fun activities that teach them about the choices adults make to meet their needs and wants.

In addition to providing volunteers, AIG employees in New York have raised funds to support JA programs. In this year’s Bowl-A-Thon, AIG raised over $55,000 – enough to recruit, train, and place a volunteer in a classroom; pay for the materials needed; and fund the cost of measuring impact for 55 classes. By introducing fundraising events as well as volunteer opportunities to employees, AIG has created an environment that encourages strong participation and support for JA New York.

John Gambale, JA New York Board Member and President of New York Zone at AIG, said, “We value programming that teaches young people how to make investments and take opportunities to improve their lives, such as saving for college or starting a business.” As a global insurance institution with a focus on philanthropy and empowering young people, AIG is a natural partner of Junior Achievement.

JA New York is especially thankful to AIG for providing the resources necessary to help our young people grow up to be successful adults, and we look forward to seeing the incredible impact this partnership has on our students.

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  • "JA activities support our college and career readiness expectations as they bridge connections to real world experiences and professions" – Hazel Cruz, PS 83

    -Junior Achievement Teacher
  • "I learned that running a business includes a lot of work! You have to know how to run it, how much to pay your employees and much more." – PS 83

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "Guess what? A volunteer from Junior Achievement came to my class! I learned that cities are places to live, eat, work and play." – Justin, PS 83

    -Junior Achievement Student
  • "Junior Achievement has given me my blueprint for success in college and beyond. JA has allowed me to grow as a student, entrepreneur, and as a future college student." – Kaiyell Pettie

    -Junior Achievement Alumnus
  • "JA volunteers give children tangible examples of the unlimited opportunities available to them."

    -Junior Achievement Volunteer

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