San Diego Students to Compete at Junior Achievement’s National Student Leadership Summit

Top row: JA’s Tanya Johnson, JA’s Allyson Burakoff, Otterbox’s Barbara Lamadrid, JA’s Jacqui Pernicano, CYMER’s Laura Eklo,  and The Control Group’s Sean Shahrokhi

Bottom row:  CCA Today Team- Rachel Gorgas, CEO, Madison Moreno, PR, Lorenzo Patino, CFO, Hannah Bush, CMO and Kinni Fux, PR and Marketing


San Diego Students to Compete at Junior Achievement’s National Student Leadership Summit

 Teen entrepreneurs will go head-to-head against 14 other teams in Washington, D.C., next month

Junior Achievement (JA) of San Diego students have been selected as one of 15 finalist teams to compete at the Junior Achievement National Student Leadership Summit (NSLS) in Washington, D.C. The students will travel to the nation’s capital for the three-day event, June 22-24, to compete with teen entrepreneurs from across the United States. 

The San Diego students represent Canyon Crest Academy High in Carmel Valley and founded CCA Today, a school app to inform students of activities and events on school campus.   The teen company is a part of the JA Company Program®, in which high school students start and run a real business enterprise under the guidance of a volunteer from the local business community. The teens devise a product designed to fill an unmet consumer need, produce and market their product or service, and recruit investors for their company. 

CCA Today’s product, which is available to all smart phones, serves as a recreational, school campus application designed to enlighten students with information about events, schedules, and news.  The teen company hopes the new technology will encourage students to feel a part of their school and possibly improve their high school experience. 

“We are so excited to compete on a national level and look forward to introducing our team and winning product at the National Student Leadership Summit in June,” said Rachel Gomans, President and CEO at CCA Today and senior at Canyon Crest Academy.  “We'd like to thank Junior Achievement for providing us with the skills we need, not only to manage our existing company, but to understand business as a whole and apply the knowledge we've gained throughout our careers."

The 15 teen teams of five students each will vie for four different awards at the NSLS event. The competition’s top honor is JA Company of the Year, powered by The Hartford: first-, second-, and third-place awards will be presented. The student companies will be assessed on their financial performance, individual team members’ personal and professional development, on a self-produced commercial about their product or service, on their team’s live presentation to a panel of business leaders, and on their company’s performance at an Entrepreneurship Expo on Capitol Hill.

The Entrepreneurship Expo will take place on Tuesday, June 23, in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Cannon Caucus Room. The event is open to the public from 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. EDT; free refreshments will be served.

The event’s three other awards are: The ICE NYSE Foundation Best Financial Performance Award, The Microsoft Social Innovation Award, and the FedEx Access Award. The winners will be named at a gala awards dinner at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center on June 24.

“We are thrilled the CCA Today team is headed to Washington D.C. to compete on a national level,” said Jacqui Pernicano, Chief Operating Officer & Senior Vice President at Junior Achievement of San Diego County.   “We have watched these students throughout the year as they started and grew their business. They truly demonstrate how fostering entrepreneurship can help spur economic growth through innovation and job creation.  We are so proud to be a part of their success.”

“This is the second year I have served as a mentor and sponsor, and the ability to follow the framework of the JA curriculum, while incorporating real world, and real-time business issues, is a huge reason for the program’s success,”  said  Ken Schmitt, President at Turning Point Executive Search and JA Company Program Mentor for the first place winning company CCA Today. “ The JA Company Program is unique because it goes beyond the textbook and classroom, providing students the opportunity to turn their ideas into a real business that generates money.”

The JA Company Program, a hallmark of JA dating back to 1919, lets students start and manage their own business.  By organizing and operating an actual business enterprise, students not only experience how business functions, but also learn financial responsibly, work-readiness skills and entrepreneurship.

For more news and events at Junior Achievement of San Diego, please follow the nonprofit on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Kristi Zimsky

Kristi Zimsky

PR and Social Media Manager