High School Pair Nominated for Junior Achievement Scholarship

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Two students from Amityville Memorial High School are under consideration for Junior Achievement Student of the Year, competing for a $10,000 scholarship grant. Juniors Bryanna Leguizamon and Genesis Perez were nominated by Transition Coordinator Karen Gross for their work with the High School Heroes program and participation in Junior Achievement’s Finance Park.

Every year, Amityville high school students teach lessons to children at Northeast, Northwest and Park Avenue Memorial elementary schools about careers, community, economics, family and finance, using the Junior Achievement curriculum and resources. High School Heroes allows the older students to serve as role models while also gaining insight into child-based careers such as pediatrics and teaching. 

Prior to visiting the elementary classrooms, the high school students are trained by Linda Furey, senior manager of programs for Junior Achievement. They then meet several times to plan out the interactive lessons. Elementary children learn how to run a business and manage personal finances, discern the differences between needs and wants, explore the roles of community helpers and understand production methods, among other topics. 

“It was a perfect opportunity for me to see what a teacher does on a daily basis,” said Genesis, who said her participation in High School Heroes confirmed her desire to become a teacher. “I felt like I had a great impact.”
Bryanna wants to attend nursing school after graduation. Her goal is to work for the American Red Cross, and then become a pediatric oncology nurse at a hospital. She said that High School Heroes was a valuable experience for her in working with children and developing her communication skills.

“It's a great program,” she said. “It opens many doors for you.”

Through the Finance Park program, Bryanna and Genesis traveled to Islandia to participate in a financial literacy simulation with students from other Long Island high schools. Working in teams, they created a fictitious person with a salary, career and family, then experienced real-world financial situations such as buying a car, paying bills and taxes, managing student debt and more. It helped them learn how to budget their money, and evaluate the benefits and risks of saving and investing.

Genesis said that her involvement in Junior Achievement has given her other opportunities. By working with bilingual classes as part of High School Heroes, she was chosen to tutor a bilingual student from Northwest Elementary School by videoconference during the school closure from the COVID-19 pandemic. She is also enrolled in education courses at Amityville Memorial High School through St. Joseph’s College and works with children at an afterschool program through SCOPE Education Services.

Bryanna and Genesis had their Student of the Year interviews in early May, during which they were asked about their involvement in Junior Achievement’s program, how it benefitted them, their future goals and other involvement in school. The Student of the Year will serve as the premier student ambassador for Junior Achievement New York and attend fundraising events throughout the year. Up to four finalists will be chosen, with each receiving $1,000, and will be invited to attend networking events, and other students in the Top 10 will get $250 each. 

In addition to Junior Achievement, the girls are members of the Key Club, National Honor Society, World Language Honor Society and Warrior Awareness Club. Genesis is also involved with student government and plays soccer, and Genesis belongs to Breaking Borders.