The Power of a Mentor

Original Story from Junior Achievement of Wisconsin

Our JA Business Challenge was held on February 16, 2017.  Haley Gandara, one of our student team mentors, shared this story about her experience with Junior Achievement:

“I was involved with JA as a student at Memorial High School in Madison, Wisconsin. Dan Pacetti was a JA volunteer in our personal finance class and came each week to speak. He and my personal finance teacher, Mr. Thomas, were the first to point out my business skills and made me truly consider business as a career. I always had an interest in entrepreneurship, but they were the first to encourage me to consciously think about it.

When my class partner and I won the JA Titan Challenge in our classroom, we had the opportunity to compete at the same Business Challenge we are volunteering for on Thursday. I remember trying a new strategy that didn’t work and then catching up at the end to win a scholarship. We went on to the Wisconsin JA Business Challenge to compete against others from across Wisconsin. Dan Pacetti became a mentor to me after that.  He helped me as I looked through business programs and decided where to attend. I still appreciate that relationship to this day, and I have JA to thank for it!”

Haley is now the Director of Client Relations and Marketing at Empower Wealth Management in Madison, WI.


AT&T Job Shadow - A Glimpse Into the Future

Original Story from Junior Achievement of South Florida

The following is a Blanche Ely High School teacher’s reflection of an AT&T Job Shadow.

“Thank you for the awesome opportunity you provided to our students to get a chance to visit AT&T this week!

The students were exposed to a whole new world. It was very educational and  the students appreciated the hands-on activity. They got a chance to learn different types of positions available within AT&T. I myself was amazed by how much I learned about how responsible AT&T employees are to the customers they serve without knowing any of them.

One of the AT&T staff members mentioned that the students did not all have technical backgrounds but the questions that they asked were very logical.

It was awesome for them to see a career field that they can apply for and move up in the company by having a good work ethic and being willing to learn. I believe this opportunity provided our students with options that they never considered before.

I sincerely thank you!”

-Nicole WIlson

AIG Success Story - JA in Action

Original Story from Junior Achievement of Dallas

Junior Achievement really had an impact on Jose L., a 4th grader at William L. Cabell Elementary School. According to his teacher, Maria Soto, Jose had talked a few times about writing computer programs when he grew up, but after learning about entrepreneurship and what it takes to run a business, Jose decided to become an entrepreneur. Jose was taking a computer coding class and he decided to use what he learned in that class to create an app. The app would help people organize and create playlists of their favorite music and he could sell it to his friends. Ms. Soto, who also taught the coding class, said that from March until the end of the year Jose worked hard designing the app, and writing and refining its code. She saw a new determination in Jose.

However, Jose developed more than an app during those last three months of school. He was developing himself and learning the soft job skills that employers look for such as a strong work ethic and problem solving. He used what JA taught him to think like an entrepreneur and fill a need he saw among his group of friends. He learned that success is a result of hard work. Hours of writing and refining computer code helped Jose develop strong work habits.

The Junior Achievement class was the beginning for Jose. When asked how he can apply what he learned from JA at home, Jose said without hesitation, “I learned I can start my own business.” The lessons he learned from JA and his journey creating the app will be with him for a lifetime. From JA Jose learned that it is his education that will allow him to further his ambitions and become the entrepreneur he wants to be. From his coding class and experience building his app, Jose now has the experience and knowledge to take on even greater challenges. Now in the fifth grade, Jose is looking for his next great opportunity.  

Donors Provide Opportunity

Original Story from Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast, Florida

Below is an amazing letter of support from a JA Alumnus, who also happens to be a member of JA of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast’s education committee and a Dean at a local college that they work closely with.

I am writing to express my support for Junior Achievement. As an alumnus of JA’s Company program, I cannot express enough how the leadership skills, in addition to the business and free enterprise knowledge I gained, shaped my life.

During three years in high school I was part of a JA company sponsored by General Electric (GE). Each week those of us involved would meet with a team of four GE mentors who would teach us about the various aspects of building a successful company. From product development to manufacturing, raw material purchasing to marketing, and human resources to sales, we learned the ins and outs of America’s free enterprise system.

In addition, I took advantage of numerous leadership development opportunities offered through special programs and conferences. All of this taught me valuable leadership skills such as conflict resolution, active listening, self-confidence, and team management.

I used the skills and knowledge gained to become a successful college student, even earning a Ph.D. in education. I have been teaching at the university level for over 20 years now, and currently serve as a college dean. I attribute much of my success to the principles I learned in JA.

The only reason I was able to take part and benefit from Junior Achievement is that it didn’t cost me a dime. I was raised by a single mother and lived in a small house trailer at the time. We did not have extra money for me to take music lessons, join clubs, or participate in much of anything. Because JA was subsidized by local companies and fundraisers, I had the opportunity to be part of something special.

I was company president for two years. My senior year of high school, our company was named JA company of the year in Indiana, and I was president of the year. We competed at the national level, where we finished in the top five.

As an adult, I have enjoyed opportunities to give back to Junior Achievement as much as possible. Now that I am a dean at Keiser University, I am able to help find points of connection for JA and our faculty & students. Whether it’s in assisting with a fundraiser, helping to recruit volunteers, or simply finding ways to make JA better known on campus, I value being a small part of a team that is promoting JA in the Palm Beach County area.

To me, it is obvious that JA, and specifically the Company program, is changing lives and helping students prepare for successful future. I am proud to support their work.


Dr. Dan Lambert

Keiser University

            West Palm Beach, Florida

Remembering Mr. Pedigo

Original Story from Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia

During JA Alumni Month in January, WFXR-TV in Roanoke, Virginia, featured a story about Dr. Jim Sears. Dr. Sears, who is the President and CEO of the city’s Center in the Square, a regional cultural and arts center, discussed how Junior Achievement impacted his life in the 1950s when he participated in the JA Company Program.

“You got your product materials, you made your product, you sold your product, you accounted for it and then you closed it out at the end of the term. It was a fantastic experience. It taught us all about business," said Sears.

Dr. Sears then when on to talk about his JA volunteer during the news segment.

"Well, 50 years later or more I still remember his name. Now who do I remember 50 years ago?  I remember Mr. Pedigo. He obviously made a strong impression on me about volunteering and helping people in the community, particularly children," said Sears.

The segment played on the local news in January. And while you might think that would be the end of the story, Dr. Sears later shared with JA that something unexpected happened:

“As a FYI, 88 year old, Mr. Pedigo walked in on the 11:00 PM news (at home) when I mentioned his name.  He tracked me down and asked, ‘am I the Mr. Pedigo to whom you referred’? We compared notes down to the products we produced as a company and the car in which he drove the Junior Achievers to neighborhoods to sell their products.  We talked for 30 minutes and I could tell it enthused him to reach back to his younger days and to be told that he made a positive impact on the lives of many kids. His daughter texted me later telling me what a miracle it had been for him to see the TV broadcast and that I returned a call to him as his wife of 60 plus years had died just six months before and he was down in spirits. She said this whole episode lifted his spirits and communicated to him that God still had things for him to do. I have invited him and his family to visit Center in the Square and to lunch.  If I find that he is able, I might ask him to volunteer at our visitor services desk. I have two other 90 plus year olds and people love them.”

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  • "Junior Achievement has given me a sense of what adults go through with budget issues."

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