Why I Give Back
January is JA Alumni month, so we asked Kate Pelini, a JA Alumni and volunteer, to share her experience. Read Pelini’s account of her 5th grade JA experience and learn why she gives back now as an EY employee.
As a fifth grader participating in Junior Achievement almost 12 years ago, I will never forget the feeling of craving information that seemed so relevant to real life and what it would be like to be a “grown up.” The JA program in which I participated focused on entrepreneurial skills – we were learning how to start a company that would make green and yellow car-shaped erasers. At the end of the program, I remember how receiving that tangible object “our company” was producing was a proud moment for all of us that participated.
That was also the first-time business sparked my interest as a possible career path – at that point in time if someone had suggested to me that I would be an accountant, I don’t think I would have believed them. But looking back, this was the first exposure I had to anything business-related while in school and it all seemed so logical to me and I looked forward to my time with JA each week. That is why when the opportunity to be a volunteer with JA presented itself, I was eager to help. Having such fond memories of my own experience, I hoped I would be able to give a young student the same enthusiasm that I developed over the course of just a few weeks.
The first lesson as a volunteer was somewhat nerve-wracking. As the time came closer I realized I had no idea how I was going to make topics such as credit, budgeting, and insurance seem interesting to 7th graders. I think the inherent belief, when it comes to these kinds of topics, is that students find them boring, or do not know anything about them, and we as volunteers must start building their skills from the ground up. It was such a pleasant surprise, and a reminder of how I felt during my own experience, to see so many students get excited about more than just our weekly game, they also had so much of their own knowledge to add to our discussions. They know that things such as budgeting and insurance are real topics that their parents, siblings, and teachers deal with on a regular basis. It is refreshing to see the students want to be able to participate in those discussions. It made all the difference in the world for me as a volunteer and I looked forward to each week’s new perspectives. I can’t wait to teach a new group of students and see more of their passion about taking control of their own finances and futures!