Author: Sarah Koci Scheilz
Published: Tuesday, 09 Jul 2019
Underground Social member Caylee Knox calls her Junior Achievement volunteer experience “one of the best I’ve had so far in life. I truly believe in the importance of mentoring young women and showing love and support in hopes they will pay it forward someday.”
Caylee’s first foray into JA was as a mentor through the Underground Social and JA partnership event, “Success Suits Her.” The event paired professional women mentors with high school students and empowered the young women with donated professional attire. Caylee felt uncertain walking into Crossroads Academy this spring as she launched her Junior Achievement volunteer expereince. “I wasn’t sure what to expect,” she reflects. “It can be tough to stand in front of a group of high school girls.”
But it all changed when she met the teens. “When the girls walked in, they were excited to see us. They just radiated.”
Despite obvious nerves, the girls at the Success Suits Her Event were all energy. “As soon as you start working with them one on one,” Caylee shares, “complimenting their taste, asking questions about who they are, what they're interested in, they opened up so quickly.”
Caylee enjoyed seeing the girls light up as she coached them to find a professional outfit that would complement their personality. “I could see their confidence grow as we picked up clothes they loved and that they were going to look great in them,” Caylee adds. “They were all complimenting each other, coming out and showing us. That was so much fun to watch.”
Caylee’s own experience with mentorship taught her how priceless the connection could be. “Mentorship has been huge for me,” Caylee shares. “Looking back, my own mentor took me under her wing. I understand the importance of mentorship from a standpoint of shaping you and making an impact that’s lifelong.”
While fortunate to have walked the path that led her to become Client Success Manager at the Coffman Group, Caylee recognizes that many young women don’t have the knowledge they need to achieve their dreams. “All they need is someone to look up to that they respect and admire to encourage them to make better decisions or go for their goals,” Caylee notes. “Another shining light in their lives can give them the support and encouragement to go for it. That was really attractive to me about Junior Achievement.”
Caylee brings a personal touch of kindness to each event she attends. When one of her mentees finally found the perfect blazer with a small tear, Caylee knew what to do. “She didn’t know anyone who could sew, so I just took it,” Caylee remembers. “I was like, ‘Are you okay with me taking it to my tailor and she’ll just fix it?’ She beamed and gave me a hug. When I gave the repaired blazer to her at the Future Women’s Leadership Forum, she was glowing. It was adorable on her. It was probably one of the sweetest moments ever because she was so appreciative.”
While interacting with the Junior Achievement young women at Crossroads Academy, Caylee was impressed by their focus on the future. “I was very moved by my mentee, Nola,” Caylee says. “Her maturity and her drive were impressive. She had already planned her summer jobs and was nervous about her savings plan. She really opened up and had such an open mind about what to do with her money. I was impressed that by her age she had that kind of mindset.”
Caylee’s Junior Achievement experiences have had an impact on her entire life. “It's ignited the fire in me to step up and make it a priority in my life to be an influencer to young women,” Caylee shares. “I'm passionate about bringing up future women because we need to turn this ship around.” Through Junior Achievement, Caylee builds meaningful relationships that motivate her to continue being a leader.
“Every person I've met at Junior Achievement just radiates integrity, support, love, passion, and encouragement,” Caylee adds. “It's just there naturally. Nothing's forced. You have a mission and you live it. You can feel it as soon as you meet everyone in the organization. It's definitely contagious.”
As a mentor, YOU inspire the next generation like Caylee. Giving back to Junior Achievement builds relationships that make a difference in the world.