JA Company Program Inspires Student to Overcome Adversity

The motivation students derive from their JA experience helps inspire JA associates around the country. Raquel Jacquez, development manager at Junior Achievement of Northern California, shared the story of Joseph, whose JA Company Program experience gave him valuable business experience and enhanced his self-worth.

Before having JA, Joseph half-heartedly attended high school in Hercules, Calif. His plan was to drift through high school with a 2.0 grade point average and then maybe get a college education. Joseph also admitted that he "did not see a purpose in education, but in reality, there was a time when he did.

As a child, Joseph wanted to be an astronaut and eventually a cowboy--and his parents were supportive of his dreams. Then, when he turned 16, his parents asked him again what he wanted to be. He told them he wanted to be a producer. They said he needed to be more practical.

"But throughout my parents' disapproval, someone, or rather a group of people, believed in me," wrote Joseph, referring to The Academy of Hospitality and International Tourism. He created multimedia presentations for their events and was happy being able to "express himself through film." He then learned about JA and was inspired to excel despite challenges he was facing in his personal life.

Joseph joined JA Company Program and became the CEO of Herban Movement, a JA Company that sells Herban Dishes, a cookbook encyclopedia, and Project Gaia (multipurpose bag that replaces plastic bags). The fact that he had become homeless and was sleeping on his friends' couches did not deter him. In fact, it fueled his fire to succeed.

"If I will take anything from this experience, it is that sometimes the world might push mercilessly against what you want, but there will always be something that will fuel your fire," said Joseph. "When I joined Herban Movement, my standards were raised, both academically and spiritually," wrote Joseph. "I am proud of everything we have done in a year, and even prouder to say that I am leaving this company in great hands." Joseph graduated from Hercules High School this summer, and Herban Movement won the Microsoft Social Innovation Award (pictured below; Joseph is sixth from left) at last month's JA National Student Leadership Summit.

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