Junior Achievement, a national organization that places college students and business professionals as volunteers into classrooms, is looking to grow the program at St. Thomas and reach out to nonbusiness majors.

Junior Achievement volunteers take pre-designed curriculum for elementary students and deliver lessons on various aspects of financial literacy, including issues related to work, and saving and spending money, and for older elementary students the basics of supply and demand.

“About eight or nine years ago Junior Achievement approached St. Thomas, and specifically the Opus College of Business, about forming a partnership that would provide Junior Achievement as a volunteer opportunity for Tommies,” said Nickolas Naidicz, student chair for Junior Achievement on campus. “We have a strong relationship with Business 200 within the College of Business, and more than 50 students provided volunteer service last year. We’d like to grow that number with the help of nonbusiness students who would be willing to volunteer to teach elementary students financial literacy concepts.”

“While we have worked with mostly business majors, this opportunity would benefit anyone wishing to gain volunteering experience with youth,” Naidicz added.

Junior Achievement volunteers spend about five hours throughout the semester in classroom settings. While giving of their time and talents, they get back so much more than credit for volunteer hours.

“There really is nothing more rewarding and heartwarming than seeing a smile on the face of a child, but when I volunteered with Junior Achievement I was able to do this while knowing that I was teaching children something they can learn through and grow from,” remarked Mariann Kukielka, a junior and a business communication major. “The JA materials we’re given to teach are not only fun but also are designed really well to help children learn real-world skills and ideas that are applicable and aid in understanding more about how our grown-up world works.”

Alyssa Hewes, a junior accounting major, also has enjoyed the JA experience. “I enjoy working with JA because I love seeing the reactions on the kids’ faces when we come in to teach them. They get so excited for the activities and always want you to be by them,” she said. “I enjoy answering their questions and sharing my experiences with them. JA is a great program. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to give back to the community and make a difference.”

It’s easy to volunteer, Naidicz points out, with training provided either in groups or on a one-to-one basis to accommodate students’ schedules.

To learn more about Junior Achievement, visit the local chapter’s website, Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest.

To volunteer for Junior Achievement, email Naidicz.