Q: How long were you involved with JA?
I was involved with JA for about all four years of high school. I was a JA student teacher (JA High School Hero) and would teach the students the curriculum. Ms. Tucker wanted me to be a supervisor for the students who would be teaching the curriculum so I was not only teaching, I was recruiting people within the school and explaining the benefits of being a part of JA. I wanted to hype it up and show the benefits of not only the individual students but the community and the schools we were going to.
Q: It's been 4 years since Lauren Mora was named Student of The Year. What is she doing now?
Lauren Mora is a recent graduate from Texas A&M University. Graduating in a pandemic, Lauren was uncertain about where her career would take her, but she was determined to achieve her dreams and come back to Dallas to start her professional life. After graduation, Lauren landed a job with RealPage, Inc. in their sales department. In many ways, she agrees that she is utilizing a lot of the JA skills that she once learned and taught to younger JA students. This includes being an entrepreneur! Lauren has launched her own side business too by doing a lifestyle and apparel brand. She is now living on her own, paying rent, and navigating the real world.
She is learning how to embody what it means to be a full blown adult!
Q: What role did Junior Achievement play in your life?
It taught me financial literacy, things in the curriculum that I had forgotten about – then I would have to teach that and learn it again. It taught me the fundamentals of managing money and saving. It was fun for me! It was cool to learn that from the curriculum that we were teaching to 6th graders. I also would go back to the idea of 'breaking the cycle' for kids who feel like where they are limited within where they live or the resources that they don’t have. Planting the seed that you can overcome obstacles, and you have resources or people in JA who want to see these students succeed, I think that was the most prominent moment for me --- to see the light in that kids eyes when they were talking to us and having hope and energy for themselves, to be encouraged to go to high school, go to college. For me, it taught me to give back because even those little moments, even if I don’t know where that student is now, we were all there talking to them and taking the time to interact with them. They are probably further in life than they would have been if we wouldn’t have been there.
Q: Do you feel like being a part of JA and taking the curriculum helped prepare you for your future? If so, how?
I absolutely feel the curriculum taught me how to save, how to plan for the future. I had no debt in college. That was because my parents and I came up with a plan on how we were going to pay for school and I was able to come out of college debt free and live on my own. Now, I can live on my own and pay for my rent without my parents help. It taught me the important fundamentals of how to save money and spend it wisely. I think my parents were even shocked when I came to them about starting a plan, financially. They were happy to see that their child was wanting to save money not only for herself but for them.
It brought important questions up that we maybe didn’t think about at the time. It definitely helped us and reminded us the importance of saving and investing, even being debt free for all of us.
Q: What would you tell a JA donor or volunteer?
Volunteering or giving financially is amazing! Time and money can be used to benefit a kid and for any of the curriculum that is continuing to be built. It’s never a waste! Donors, JA continues to PROVE what their initiative is and their goal for the Dallas community. It works! I feel like I am a testimony to that because I started out volunteering in high school, becoming a mentor and ambassador for JA, becoming JA Student of the Year. Now, I am coming back to Dallas where this all started, and I am able to give back to my community with what I have been able to build for myself. I say that’s a testament to what JA is wanting to create and build, in these students, that JA wants to bring them back to Dallas and invest in them now so that when they are fully grown up and have their own business, or their own financial freedom, they are going to be encouraged and want to come back and feed back into Junior Achievement and back into Dallas. That’s the goal and that’s why I love Junior Achievement because I want to be a part of that world they are building, and I believe in it so much.
I believe that once donors see what JA has done and continues to do, they will start to believe in it too.