Author: Cassie Benzinger
Published: Tuesday, 20 May 2014
Every student has different life experiences and comes from a unique background. Most of the time, we never know the circumstances surrounding our students and the types of homes they come from. But every now and then, one student will stand apart from all the others and will engage with Junior Achievement on a deeper level.[Selena Martinez screen shot] <http://bit.ly/1mYyj9c> Rick Franke, president of Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas <https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-set> , shared the inspirational story of Selena Martinez, a three-time JA student. At age 15, Selena, then a freshman in high school, was kicked out of her house because of an abusive father. With a backpack and two black trash bags full of her belongings, she was left on her own, roaming the streets and doing the best she could to scrape by. Selena had spent her whole life surrounded by negative influences."Unstable became the norm. My entire life I was surrounded by poverty, violence, drug abuse and psychological illnesses," Selena said. "Somewhere down the road I was able to recognize that despite the mindsets around me, I wanted something different. ?"On the third week of May, a JA representative came to my high school. People always talk about good timing. I?m not sure that?s part of JA?s training, but they came in right when I needed them. The representative spoke about the importance of money management, taught us efficient budgeting strategies, the benefits of budgeting and how to apply it to other aspects of life."He went on teaching us key concepts to nailing various interviews too. These were lessons that were not a part of my school curriculum and quite frankly, were not taught at home. At the moment I had no income and for the most part, depending on what my parents could provide?but no longer having them as a main support?I needed the advice."Before he left, he encouraged us to keep pushing forward and to never stop because life was not going to wait on us. Later I learned that these were not employees of a company. They were volunteers. That is the beauty of volunteering?going out to share your knowledge and assistance. It is literally a labor of love that does not produce immediate results to the naked eye."That volunteer had no idea as to what I was going through then or what I am going through now. But his?efforts were not in vain. Since then, I?ve participated in JA three times, each session positively adding to my experience."Selena, who is now a senior at the international baccalaureate John H. Reagan High School in Houston, Texas, will be attending Bryn Mawr College <http://bit.ly/1jjlQdx> in Pennsylvania this fall, studying psychology and the science of childhood development. Selena?s dream is to open her own orphanage someday, in order to offer opportunities for children to see their great potential."It is a pretty powerful statement as to the impact a volunteer can have unknowingly on a student?s life," Rick said. "It is amazing how far this young lady has gone in such a short time."Click here <http://bit.ly/1mYyj9c> to watch a video of Selenas heartwarming story.
Junior Achievement Student
"Junior Achievement has given me a sense of what adults go through with budget issues."
Junior Achievement Student
"I liked how the Junior Achievement volunteer explained his job to us."