A Successful Junior Achievement Volunteer Experience

A few members of LABS participated in the one-day Junior Achievement school program at Ambrose Plamondon Elementary School. Volunteers were trained on December 16 by Angel Lira, and were given their assigned classrooms and materials to be used. Mr. Lira is an Operations Manager at JA, and a LABS and UIC alumni. I was assigned an 8th grade classroom with Abraham, a JA volunteer, and we were both two very excited first-time volunteers.

Abraham and I had a well-disciplined group of 8th graders who were engaged in our activities and were enthusiastic to participate. At the beginning of the class we found out through a quick survey that the majority of these kids did not have family-owned businesses and many of them did not know what it meant to be an entrepreneur. The materials we presented were focused on entrepreneurship and the activities allowed the students to understand the subject through examples and games. The activities demonstrated the skills the students had in creating ideas, making decisions and creating a plan.

At the end of the session we encouraged students to ask us questions and many of them wanted to know how to obtain a part-time job and asked if college was hard. Abraham and I gave some advice on how to succeed as employees and we encouraged them to pursue their interests as a career.

During the students' lunch break, Abraham and I met up with a few JA volunteers who were also on break and we shared our experiences with each other. Many of these students were cooperative with our activities, although, there were a few rebellious kids. My experience as a volunteer made me reflect on my own childhood and I realized that programs like JA can have the potential to impact students to become independent of negative influences. The JA volunteers from LABS are great role models for students. In my last speech to the 8th graders, I mentioned that there is no goal too little or out of reach and I emphasized the importance for them to be role models and continue to succeed and think of ways to give back to the community.

Overall, my experience as a volunteer was beneficial to the students and to me as a person. I would love to continue participating in future JA programs and I would like to mentor students and encourage them to become successful. I hope my experience encourages you to continue to support LABS and the wonderful members that represent it. I am confident that there are many students with positive experiences as well.

Name: Shirley Paredes