SHU Hosts High School Junior Achievement Business Challenge

News Story: April 15, 2016

Sixty-eight students from 14 local high schools participated in the Junior Achievement (JA) High School Business Challenge in the Bloomberg Finance Lab at Sacred Heart University’s Frank and Marisa Martire Business & Communications Center recently.

The JA Business Challenge is a one-day simulation that teaches young people about the ins and outs of running a business in a competitive, high-tech marketplace. The challenge is presented by JA, an organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to achieve economic success. This is the first time in the event’s six-year history that SHU hosted the challenge, which allowed University students and professors to engage the business-minded youth.

“This event and our partnership with JA is another way we are giving back to and interacting with our surrounding community, which also aligns with our mission as a Catholic institution,” said Tuvana Rua, a SHU professor and organizer for the event.

Throughout the day, SHU business students made sure the visiting youths were in the right locations and helped answer their questions about the University and the competition. Among those who volunteered time on their spring break to help out with the event was Ken Arnold, a senior finance and economics major, who said he enjoyed seeing the high school students work together in a competitive atmosphere.

“This forces them to work together for a common goal,” Arnold said. He pointed out that in high school, students don’t always get to experience a high-pressure competition or a challenge that requires help from peers.

The virtual competition took place in a Martire classroom. The high school students, in teams of four, gathered in front of computers and answered questions about good business decisions, said Rachel Andoh, administrative assistant and special events manager for JA. “The kids take it very seriously, because they know they can win scholarship money,” she said.

While the high school students participated in the virtual challenge, their teachers joined SHU students and professors to watch the results come in on a screen in the Martire boardroom. “We’re putting our technology to use and watching this live,” Rua said.

Before the competition started, the competitors heard about networking and etiquette from Sean Heffron, SHU’s director of student experience. After lunch, Rua gave a presentation on negotiating before teams received awards. Members of the winning team each received a $1,000 scholarship, and second-place team members each won $500.

“Sacred Heart has been amazing,” Andoh said afterward. “They’ve been so instrumental in making the day come together.”