SHU Collaborates with Junior Achievement to Drive Youth Success

News Story: March 30, 2015

Faculty from Sacred Heart University’s John F. Welch College of Business (WCOB) and students in SHU’s Business Administration Club have initiated a collaboration with Junior Achievement of Western CT (JAWCT) to offer and fund programming that supports young people in the local community.

JA’s senior program manager, Rachel Mitchell, worked with Tuvana Rua, assistant professor of management at WCOB, to develop a one-credit program for students. Students must teach a high school-level JA program to receive credit. “Having our business students teach the JA curriculum is a great opportunity for them. They can put into practice what they learn as part of their studies while giving back to the community. Students also develop a network of contacts through JA volunteers and build a resume, which helps in their job search after graduation,” Rua says.

Rachel Ragone ’15, president of the Business Administration Club this year, is among the students who have jumped into the arena. She has taught JA Career Success classes to Trumbull High School students in a seven-week JA course. “Sharing my experiences with a young classroom has made me feel empowered and knowledgeable. The situation was initially outside my comfort zone, but I feel confident that it will help me reach my goal of becoming a leader in the business world,” she says.

Rua also worked with JA to provide graduates of the “JA It’s My Business” program from the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley Joel E. Smilow Clubhouse with a day at Sacred Heart. The students attended Rua’s intro to business class and had the chance to observe (and score) the college students’ presentations of their own original business plans. The Boys & Girls Club members were also treated to a tour of the campus and lunch, followed by a quick visit to the University bookstore. Then they were welcomed by SHU student Brian Reilly to the student-run ice cream shop, where he talked about the daily tasks in running the business and some of the challenges the managers have encountered—and overcome.

“Collaborations like this one, between JAWCT, SHU, the Boys & Girls Club and the City of Ansonia (through which the program was funded) are crucial as they afford students an invaluable opportunity to see the possibilities for their future.  In turn, students get excited and set goals for themselves, empowering them to create their future success,” says Kristine Boles, Valley program manager for JAWCT. “At the end of the day, every member saw themselves attending college after graduation. What a great measure of impact!”

Additionally, for the second consecutive year, the Business Administration Club members participated in a “JA-in-a-Day” event in February at Daniels Farm School in Trumbull. A number of volunteers delivered JA programs to elementary school students.

“JA-in-a-Day was an amazing experience. I went in thinking I was going to be teaching the kids, but the children were so smart and creative that I think I learned more than they did,” says club member Rachel Smith.

Participating as a teacher at JA-in-a-Day for my second year at Daniels Farm Elementary was a great learning experience for both the students and the student teachers,” adds Rachel Ragone. “I felt inspired to be mentoring our next generation of business leaders, and I recommend the program to any business student.”