Author: Erika O'Shea
Published: Friday, 07 Feb 2020
Our JA Champions, people who take action to better a child’s future, know how important it is to prepare our young people for today’s economy. They equip students to see opportunities — and to seize opportunities. Students like Emily.
Last fall, Emily attended the Junior Achievement Future Women’s Leadership Forum and was matched with JA Mentor Shalea Walter, Vice President & Marketing Manager at Arvest Bank. Shelea and Emily shared a day of real-world conversations about money and careers, opening the door for crucial life lessons. Emily’s favorite part of the day involved sharing stories with other attendees. She spoke about her experience as the child of immigrant parents, “Coming to the US was a pretty difficult experience. There are a lot of people who judge you for how you speak. They don’t help you translate. Those were difficult times.”
Emily’s struggles to fit in as an outsider are not uncommon. According to the 2017 Race for Results study conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in Kansas and Missouri there are more than 215,000 children of immigrant families. More than half of these children are in low income families. English-language learning students have a more difficult time keeping up with their classmates in foundational subjects.
Emily explained how these external forces impacted her confidence. “At some point I blamed myself. I didn’t encourage myself to stay motivated.” To compound matters, children like Emily are more likely to live in households where at least one parent failed to graduate from high school. Limited access to help with schoolwork at home means mentorship programs become even more important to help students understand what is possible for their future.
Emily experienced a turning point when she realized she was able to help others in her position. “I started translating so I could help other students feel confident about themselves.” At the Future Women’s Leadership Forum, Emily’s biggest takeaway spoke to the transformative effect of JA Mentors. “Being here today helped me realize I’m passionate. Even though I have a rough background and still struggle with a lot of things, if I keep myself motivated, I can do better.”
Programs like the Future Women’s Leadership Forum impact the stories of many students. However, to continue preparing for their future they need ongoing exposure to professional role models. They need JA CHAMPIONS LIKE YOU to help them challenge the cycle of poverty and to define success.
You can provide Emily and her peers the tools to think far beyond what’s right in front of them. When you donate to and volunteer with Junior Achievement, you equip the next generation of leaders with the knowledge, skills and capacity to be successful. You show them they have someone in their corner.
In 2019, JA Champions provided crucial program support and mentorship to 24,870 kids in 12 counties. But there are still thousands of other children who need help to prepare them for success. In 2020, we look forward to collaborating with JA Champions, old and new, to power possibility for students like Emily in schools across our community!