JA Provides Life-Changing Experiences for Two Young Women

This past summer students Deanna Gordon and Jessika Lazala participated in the Junior Achievement USA Student Business Plan Challenge in Washington, D.C. They set ambitious goals when creating their business, yet succeeded way beyond their wildest dreams. Jennifer Connolly, president of Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, shared the story of how moving the JA experience was for these two young ladies.

In September of 2013 Deanna and Jessika set a goal of making it to the finals of the Business Plan Challenge. They come from a high school in Springfield, Mass., with a graduation rate of just 27 percent. Deanna and Jessika rose above the challenges of growing up where gunfire, drugs and dropping out were the norm and found an outlet to help them grow into successful, strong young women: Junior Achievement.

Attending the JA National Student Leadership Summit was a life-changing event for the two women. Jessika was so impressed by the Microsoft Coding Seminar and her success in the game that it inspired her to major in Information Technology (IT) in college.

Deanna met a chaperone at the JA event who is a hospital administrator. Deanna now wants to be a hospital administrator and she is eager to get started.

"The girls have become local heroes," Jennifer said. "They received a letter from the Mayor of Springfield and a proclamation from the Springfield City Council. The entire event was uplifting for our whole area. I just wanted you to know how much the event meant to the girls and to me as a representative of JA."

Both girls made new friends through their JA experience and made memories that will last a lifetime. And last month both Jessika and Deanna started attending UMass Dartmouth.

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