Student and Volunteer Re-connect Ten Years after 4th Grade


“I was just having a regular workday, when a message from Isabela Overturf popped up on LinkedIn.  It had been more than a decade since I heard from her.  It was about the last thing I expected.” 

Andrew Mehlhop, currently a Geological Advisor for EOG Resources, consistently volunteered in the classroom for Junior Achievement earlier in his career.   When our volunteers work with our youngest students, they aren’t always fortunate enough to see the impact they have on a young person, many years into the future.   JA ensures the safety and privacy of students; therefore, JA does not collect personal student information so it is a rare privilege when we are allowed to share both sides of a story like this one.

Andrew and Isabela met in her 4th grade class, when Andrew was a JA classroom volunteer.  Isabela, now a young adult in college, was reaching out after sharing her Junior Achievement experience in an interview.  Andrew had profoundly influenced her future and the story prompted her to try to reconnect. (Read Isabela’s Story)

 “I was so amazed at her accomplishments.  She deserves all the credit in the world.  I certainly remembered her, but I thought she would be a scientist, or a geologist.  Her accomplishments are really impressive.  She is working on things like music, diversity, human rights and environmental studies.  She is really expanding as a young adult.”  (Keep Reading…. link to rest of this story, draft below)

Andrew also gives a lot of credit to Isabel’s father. “He played an important role in advancing his daughter’s interests.  He took her to museums to see crystals, and on geology field trips.  They even sent me samples from field trips.”

Andrew was one of many who volunteered at Isabela’s school for several years in a row, and Karen St. Fort, Program Manager for JA’s Biztown, believes this had an important impact on the students.  During their interview, Karen noticed that Isabela talked about Andrew’s consistent involvement, emphasizing consistent.  Isabela knew the dates he said he would be back, and he was there.  Karen also noticed the JA experience had a ripple effect on the entire family.   Isabela’s mother in particular recognized that Isabela went to school one day, and came back all excited about being a geologist.  She had met a person that set an example of what it is to have a career. 

Andrew is also a supporter of JA in other ways, and has a few JA golf tournament trophies to show for it.  It is volunteering that really means the most to him.

“Junior Achievement prepares volunteers really well with their volunteer kits.   It made it easy to mix in my own career insights while teaching how our community and industry are interconnected.  I remember the fun of bringing rocks and minerals to the classroom for the kids to touch and hold while we talked about where common materials, products and resources come from buried treasures in the earth.  It was fun pointing out things in the classroom, and saying ‘see that?  It’s made from a mineral called….’

“I hadn’t really thought about how very careful JA is with student’s privacy, until they asked me to share this story.  JA doesn’t usually have any student contact information to ensure the minor’s safety, so I’m lucky to learn about Isabela’s progress.  I hope this inspires more students and volunteers to share their JA experiences on the JA Together site.  The volunteers are truly making a difference.”

Please help us make more connections like this. Volunteers, students and teachers are all welcome.  Tell us your story.  Join JA Together!

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