Leah Vlassis has learned a lot about herself the past year or so through her participation in Junior Achievement of B.C. programs.
The recent Belmont secondary grad took a leap of faith in Grade 11 when she applied at the last minute for the organization’s Next Generation Leaders Forum award, co-sponsored by The Keg Spirit Foundation. She knew it would mean putting herself and her ideas out there to people she didn’t know, a task that seemed daunting at first.
“I’m usually quite shy, but I thought, ‘I’m going to give it a try,’” she recalled.
When she didn’t hear back, she was kind of discouraged, she said. “It was kind of a letdown, but I thought, ‘there’s always next year.’”
Well-prepared with knowledge about the entry criteria and excited to get more involved in what JABC had to offer as a way of looking toward her future, she got busy. She joined Belmont’s scholarship and university prep clubs and played JA Titan, a detailed online business simulation program.
Guided by business education teacher, Tom Grainger, she and a handful of fellow Belmont students participated in JABC’s Innovation Jam, a networking and business pitching event held in Vancouver in January.
Combined with an informational visit in spring to the Fraser Institute in Victoria, Vlassis had plenty of material for her application essay topic for the Leaders Forum award: the benefits of networking. Her determination was rewarded last month when she was named co-winner with Spectrum’s Liam Grigg. The pair earned an all-expenses paid trip to the Forum, being held Aug. 18 to 22 in Peterborough, Ont.
“I was completely blown away when I was selected,” said Vlassis, an accounting fan who is taking business and math courses, among others, at the University of Victoria in the fall.
She plans to take a variety of courses early on at UVic – as she did at Belmont – to keep the doors open and get a better sense of where her interests lay.
While she has yet to settle on a university major, she knows her Junior Achievement experiences have provided her with a huge learning experience, she said.
“The fact of putting yourself out there in a positive way, talking to people and taking every opportunity you can to go and put your hand out and say ‘hi,’ it opens doors,” she said. “It completely changed me.”
For more about Junior Achievement B.C., visit jabc.org or call Deborah Wakeham, regional manager for Vancouver Island, at 250-380-6765.