Author: Sarah Koci Scheilz
Published: Monday, 07 Oct 2019
Last school year, as a fifth grader at T. A. Edison Elementary, Ava Guerra participated in Junior Achievement with JA President & CEO, Megan Sturges Stanfield, as her volunteer mentor. “I knew my family and friends believed in me,” Ava says. “Now I know Miss Megan believes in me too.”
As part of their Junior Achievement curriculum, Ava and her fellow students chose their future professions and researched more about the career field, including what it would take to get there. “I picked zoologist,” Ava shares, “because I like learning new things and animals.” Among Ava’s peers, there were future interior designers and lawyers too.
Ava also loved the experiential learning that happened in JA, including the hands-on activities and games. Ava experienced how fun it can be to learn and grow. “We played a lot of games and split into teams,” Ava says. “It was a lot of fun.”
To Ava’s mom, Ashley, the life-changing impact JA was having on her daughter was obvious. “Every day Ava had JA in her classroom, she would come home and talk about it and tell me how much fun it was and all the great things she was learning,” she says. “Ava talked about what they learned and what she wanted to be. She really enjoyed it.”
Ava was both excited and nervous to be chosen as one of several Junior Achievement students to present at the 2018 Business Hall of Fame event. Ava, Ashley shares, is generally not someone who is eager to stand up in front of a crowd. “Ava is very quiet and shy,” Ashley says. “When she was chosen to talk in front of everyone, she was so scared. But all the leaders helped her gain the confidence that she could do it.”
“I got up and talked on the stage after I practiced it,” Ava remembers. “I had to say my name, how old I was and what I wanted to do when I was older. I said zoologist and veterinarian. It was scary going up there, but I learned a lot.”
That one moment of bravery inspired change in Ava’s life. “JA opened Ava up,” Ashley reports. “It’s really changed everything she does in school. She's just more open, she'll answer questions more in class.
“She trusts herself a little bit more. It’s been so nice to see,” Ashley continues. “JA is one of the best programs Ava has ever participated in.”
Now a sixth-grade student, Ava still feels the impact of JA. “I’m more excited about my future because I understand it more,” Ava adds. “I’m ready for after school and what colleges I want to go to. I feel like I’m going to do better in life now.” Through Junior Achievement, Ava discovered the pathway to her ideal future and laid the foundation to take the first steps there.