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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Grad student calls teaching business to kids ‘rewarding’

    Joel Vigil is an accounting graduate student who, with his heavy course load, volunteers at elementary schools for Junior Achievement, a nonprofit organization that teaches K-12 students about business.

    Twice a semester, Vigil teaches a class of second or third graders about the basics of business and community.

    Wildcat: Do you want to start off by telling me what you do?

    Vigil: I originally became involved in Junior Achievement because when I first came here you had to do community-service hours (for the Eller College of Management), and I didn’t know what I was getting into at first.

    When I got in, about midway through the training session I went, ‘Oh, my God, I have to teach a class by myself.’ I completely panicked, but I was like, ‘It’s too late now.’ So I went in completely scared, (but) by the end of the day I just fell in love with the program.

    W: What do you teach?

    V: The second graders learn about community, the third graders learn about business. The main emphasis is to teach kids about business and encourage kids to stay in school. They have lots of questions about college, so I talk with them about what I do in college and how much I like it. I show them pictures of the Uof A and they love it, they get so excited.

    W: Do you interact with any other volunteers?

    V: I’m mostly solo, but I am a recruiter for the event. Pretty much, I encourage all my friends to give it a shot, and I’ve done a lot of team teaching. We used to not have enough volunteers to meet the requirements for all of the teachers, but its gotten to the point now where we have too many volunteers and they’ve closed it off to only Eller and pre-business students. I’ve definitely been active in recruiting people and, hopefully, I’ve gotten some people hooked so that when I’m gone, people will continue to keep coming back.

    W: How has it been balancing this volunteering with school?

    V: It’s definitely much more difficult with my master’s (degree) because I’m definitely much more busy. But it’s such a rewarding experience that it’s fun. I really, really enjoy it. It’s tiring. By the end of the day, you are worn out. It gives you so much more respect for teachers, especially with those younger kids because they wear you out. It’s one of those things where it’s worth making the time and being tired for a day. I just kind of juggle it, just like I do anything else in college life.

    W: How many hours or nights a week do you spend working on school?

    V: Now that I’m in the grad program, it’s like a full-time job. For one project I would spend 12-14 hours a week on just that project, not even counting my other class work. So I probably am putting in 30-40 hours a week studying. I’m taking 15 units of grad work, and I’m a TA. The homework alone takes me six to seven hours to grade.

    W: What have you gotten out of your work at Junior Achievement?

    V: I think the volunteers get more out of it than the kids do. You come out of it with a whole new respect for teachers in general. You don’t really understand it until you’re in front of a classroom and teaching for a whole day with these kids that have so much energy and they want to do all these things. It’s so rewarding to have students learn from you. When it clicks and you see it click it’s just such a great experience. The program focuses on kids from low-income schools, and I think from an early age it’s very important to have the idea that you can go to college.

    W: Anything else?

    V: I’m a huge movie buff! But a two-hour block in my schedule … er … I don’t know if I can afford to give up two hours. I feel guilty if I have two hours where I’m not doing something productive. I like to stay busy. Never a dull moment.

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