Precious Drew comes across as a young woman who is always interested in learning something new. She plans to attend the College of St. Benedict this fall to study business administration and marketing, but she’s also filled her years at Edison High School in northeast Minneapolis with an incredible range of academic and social activities, including Junior Achievement.
Precious participated in two of her school’s JA offerings, the JA Company Program, where students create, market and operate their own company, and JA Titan, a computer simulation game that teaches practical business skills.
“I first heard about JA two years ago from one of the business teachers at my school,” Precious says. “Last year we sold water bottles and this year we sold customized, handmade fleece scarves that benefitted three different causes: breast cancer awareness, supporting our troops and Edison High School.”
Her company placed first at the JAUM Company of the Year Competition, and was one of only 15 teams from across the country selected to compete at the national competition in Washington, D.C. Her team received an additional honor as one of only three teams invited to compete for the Microsoft Social Innovation Award due to their company’s dedication to charitable causes.
“I really didn’t expect how hands-on [the JA Company Program] would be,” Precious says. “I thought we’d go into a classroom, hear about running a business and maybe fantasize about it, but I didn’t realize we’d actually be doing the things that we’ve done. We did all of the things it takes to actually run a business and produce a product.”
Precious says JA gave her practical experience that she hopes to one day build upon by opening her own chain of animal shelters, combining both her business acumen and love for pets. And while Precious credits JA with sparking her business interests, she also shows natural entrepreneurial flair in another part of her busy life.
During her high school years, she turned a hobby into an income-producing part-time job. As a music lover, she creates and uploads videos of her favorite artists to the Internet. Because she’s attracted so many “hits” to her productions—she has 15,000 subscribers and more than 10 million views—YouTube proposed a revenue-sharing arrangement that pays her about $230 a month.
Precious says she recommends JA to everyone she knows, because she understands that the program imparts both real skills and real knowledge.
“I would tell a friend that JA is one of the best programs around to expose you to business world materials,” she says. Had it not been for the JA programs, I would not have the view of the business world that I do today. I just don’t think I would have been exposed to these things any other way.”