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January is JA Alumni Month

Hear their stories:

image of Jack Schaefer

Image caption: Jack Schaefer, John Deere

The knowledge and skills I gained from Junior Achievement have been instrumental in my personal and professional development. From elementary to high school, I remember the classes were engaging and informative, teaching valuable life skills and encouraging success. The hands-on understanding of budgeting, investing, and managing money ensured my success while in college and to this day. The program was run by dedicated volunteers and parents who truly cared about our accomplishments. Now working for a company that supports Junior Achievement, I am proud to be a volunteer to give back and help provide the same opportunities for other students.

– Jack Schaefer, John Deere

Image caption: Carley Elkins, Eaton

To the current JA students: Growing up, you will have teachers, family members, and other adults ask you what you want to do for the rest of your life. It can be scary to think about and, believe it or not, it’s okay! That is completely normal not to know all the answers. I graduated college not too long ago and sometimes I still have many questions. Just know that you are not alone in this journey no matter how old you are.

I think that is where JA helped me a bit. Attending JA’s BizTown when I was in elementary school gave me some idea of what the real world is like outside of school. At that time, I had no idea what my parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or even what other grownups went through. Not only did it open my eyes to all the possibilities for my future, it opened my eyes to the real world.

While I don’t remember everything that happened at JA BizTown, I do remember learning about opening a bank account, balancing checks, filling out a job application, and other things. These items must have stuck with me in the back of my mind because when it came time for me to do all of those tasks in real life, I had no problems doing them. In fact, one of my favorite jobs that I ever had was working in a Career Center. There, I helped other people build resumes from scratch, apply to jobs, and practice interviewing. I was very sad when I left that job but I still do those things on my own time for friends and family members. Helping others has always been a big part of who I am and I cherish doing those things.

It’s important to know that not everyone goes to college and that is okay! If you don’t want to go to college, you will still learn many important things that you may use as an adult when you attend any JA program. Your time in JA may be short, but the life lessons taught stick with you for the rest of your lives.

– Carley Elkins, Eaton

Image caption: Brandon DeBruine, Group O

I am honored to share my Junior Achievement experience. I had JA numerous times throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years. Each time a volunteer came in we would learn valuable lessons on topics outside our normal curriculum. I can remember learning about investing in the stock market, how to balance a checkbook, money management, and a peek into the careers of our JA volunteers. Each time we had a volunteer come in was an exciting time for my classmates and me. They always brought positive energy to the classroom, sometimes candy too! As an eighth grader, I was excited about the stock market after learning about it in our stock activity. We would compete to see whose company was doing better. I used to grab the newspaper from my parents every morning to see if the stock I had chosen for this activity was making money.

It was through the JA programs that I truly learned the value of money and its role in our economy. The volunteers that worked with me aspired me to become someone that could inspire and engage with others. I attribute the positive experiences I had though JA with leading me to the career I have today in the Human Resources profession. A profession that allows me to be engaging with my co-workers and our employees. I thank the JA program for that.

– Brandon DeBruine, Group O

Image caption: Arianna Clark, Capri College

I’m currently a student at Capri College in Davenport, Iowa for cosmetology. I graduated from Central High School in 2021 a year early and enrolled in cosmetology school a few months after graduating. I knew I would end up in the beauty industry because I’ve had a passion and natural talent for it since I was very young. My first experience with JA was when I was in elementary school and we had a field trip to JA BizTown®. On this trip we learned about financial capability, work and career readiness, and business ownership. I remember as a young student this trip was very inspirational and educational. I recently just had another wholesome experience with JA in December at their career expo in East Moline. Capri, where I currently attend, hand picked a couple students to come along with and just talk to students, give words of motivation, teach some of our own skills, and give out information on our experiences. I loved talking with the kids and learning what they want to do with their career and education. Junior Achievement is an awesome group to work with, and I believe they truly help our younger generation gain the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices. 

– Arianna Clark, Capri College

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