JA Alumni Story: Jessica Hibbetts

Posted in: Alumni Stories

In 2009, Jessica Hibbetts was attending the 6th grade in Peoria, AZ, when she got an opportunity that would make a long-lasting impact on her life. Her school offered the JA BizTown program, a simulation of a working town run by students for a day, through Junior Achievement of Arizona (JA)! “I had heard about the JA BizTown program,” Jessica recalled during a recent interview with JA. “My older sister had attended JA BizTown two years prior and I couldn’t wait for my turn!”

Jessica remembers vividly recalls the many lessons that took place in her classroom prior to the JA BizTown experience. She was taught how to write a check, label an envelope, and even got to take a personality assessment to determine what type of career she would be best suited for. When it came time to be assigned a JA BizTown job, she was not surprised when she was given a store manager position.

“I am a super Type A person and so the role suited me,” she noted as she happily reminisced. Throughout the classroom lessons, Jessica learned important lessons around the value of money, but it wasn’t until she and her classmates arrived at JA BizTown in Tempe, Arizona, that she fully understood the concept.

Her major takeaway was the insight she gained into her own learning style. “I realized that I can read a textbook all day, but when I am able to apply it in real life, it allows me to absorb the concept much better.” Jessica added that she never had access to resources around money management, much less the opportunity for real-world application. JA BizTown offered a real-world experience without the real stress of adult life.

“With programs like JA, it helps mitigate the fear of starting the adult world process. When you are familiar with what’s to come, then it helps reduce stress surrounding it, especially for students who don’t come from a stable family structure.” Jessica’s school contained primarily lower-income students, and she was thankful that there were programs like JA who could give students the tools they needed to succeed in their futures.

Today, Jessica works as a Festival Event Marketing Associate for M3F, a nonprofit that puts on an annual music festival to benefit Arizona charities. She fondly reflected on her time at JA and is thankful for the insight it gave her into her learning style, money management skills, and her future.