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Reflections from 2023 Junior Achievement Competition Finalists

Local high school students share entrepreneurship journey's impact

two student teams and teachers in washington dc

Image caption: Students from Battery Drop of GlenOak High School (left) and Emocean of Hoover High School (right) see the sights in Washington D.C.

Fifteen JA Company teams from more than 100 Junior Achievement Areas across the nation were selected to compete in the 2023 Junior Achievement National Student Leadership Summit (NSLS), a contest of business skills, ingenuity, and innovation held in June in Washington D.C.  Currently reaching more than 10,000 U.S. students who created over 500 startup ventures, JA Company Program students are empowered to start and operate a real business enterprise under the guidance of dedicated volunteers from the local business community. Students devise and market a product or service that fills an unmet consumer need while recruiting investors for their company.

Two teams - Battery Drop and Emocean - were selected to attend from Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio, a consistently high-performing chapter.  In addition to producing a commercial showcasing their product or service, delivering a live presentation to a panel of business leaders, and demonstrating their company's performance at the Entrepreneurship Expo on Capitol Hill, competing teams were assessed on their financial performance and evaluated on their personal and professional development of team members. 

Emocean earned the Delta Social Impact Award which is bestowed on the student team for creating a solution to address a local, national, or global social concern.

The local student finalists who attended the Summit provided us with reflections of their experience, showcasing the amazing opportunities and benefits the program provides.  We invite you to read some of the excerpts of their reflections.

students from battery drop presenting product to us congresswoman emilia sykes

Image caption: Battery Drop presents their battery recycling container and tester to US Congresswoman Emilia Sykes (Ohio)

Attending the NSLS was like finding out you were getting to play in the Super Bowl – it’s the best of the best, and we were so proud to have been chosen to present on the national stage.  This entire experience of coming together with my classmates to develop and run a company has been transformational in my life; I thought I always “had it figured out” and had the best ideas of anyone. This experience has humbled me quite a bit, and has allowed me to recognize that although I do have strengths, I have many weaknesses as well. I truly see the value of having a team of people with diverse personalities, backgrounds, and interests – this is what it truly takes to have a successful team that can persevere in tough times, not just a person at the “top” who (thinks they) know it all.  Our week in Washington DC was magical! We were introduced to so many business leaders from across the country, and made connections with many different young people who were driven and challenge just like us with the JA Company experience! Our team was given feedback that will allow us to grow in the future, and we were able to watch and learn about other young people’s JA Company journey.

Burton D. Morgan Foundation is focused on “Empowering Entrepreneurs” – and they recognize that entrepreneurs exist at all ages, including with a group of high school seniors. I look forward to making a difference in the business world, continuing to dream big, and to bring about positive changes in my community through continued recycling efforts as I did with my company Battery Drop. As I reflect now on this experience over the past year, I feel so fortunate to have had a chance to learn these valuable lessons in high school, and to have attended the highly coveted “Junior Achievement National Student Leadership Summit” because of generous funding from your organization.

The exposure to the diverse communities and ideas in Washington, DC, has broadened my horizons and deepened my appreciation for the importance of civic engagement. I had the privilege of attending seminars, workshops, and conferences that fostered intellectual discourse and encouraged innovative thinking. This exposure has instilled in me a strong sense of social responsibility and a desire to contribute meaningfully to my community.

emocean team talks with trade show attendees

Image caption: Emocean interacts with crowd at the Trade Show Exhibition

It was an amazing experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. I learned many important skills and met people from all over the country that I otherwise would have never had the chance to meet. A significant takeaway for me was the importance of networking. One of my favorite parts of the event was the student social where I was able to connect and hang out with the other students involved in the company program. I also really enjoyed competing in the Capitol for the trade show booth portion. The skills I learned from this event will help me to succeed in my future career and I can’t thank you enough for this opportunity.

During our time in Washington DC, we had the incredible opportunity to meet with key industry leaders, policymakers, and experts in our field. We gained valuable insights and knowledge that will undoubtedly shape the future of our business. Your investment not only enabled us to attend important meetings and conferences but also facilitated networking opportunities that opened doors to potential partnerships and collaborations.

Typically, I am the type of person to not willingly start conversations with others, especially adults. But throughout this convention, I networked with so many people! Learning to go outside my comfort zone and communicate with others properly taught me how to network, where these will help me in the future with business. I went to NSLS with my amazing company, Emocean. We persevered through our nerves and performed amazingly. Although we didn’t place in the company of the year awards, our team won the Delta Social Impact Award. This award was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Learn more about the fifteen finalist teams.

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