2019 JA Inspiration Scholars

The JA Inspiration Scholarship is awarded to students who embody the JA spirit, as demonstrated through their life experiences, drive, and future aspirations. Read more about the outstanding scholarship recipients in 2019:

Alazar Ogbai

Alazar Ogbai portrait

Denver East High School, Class of 2019

Extracurricular Involvement: DECA, Black Students Alliance, Track & Field, Tennis

Post-Secondary Plans: University of Colorado, Studying Business Management and Entrepreneurship

Junior Achievement Participation: JA Business Week, JA Personal Success, JA Launch Lesson, and JA Career Success

Alazar Ogbai, a Denver East High School graduate, is motivated to earn his master’s degree in business administration someday so he may help contribute to a more sustainable economy in his home country, Eritrea. Alazar grew up witnessing human rights violations and the impact of political instability, and he’s one among thousands Eritreans who flee the country each month.

“All the events that occurred in my life have made me a better man that’s willing to sacrifice anything for a brighter future,” Alazar says. He works toward that bright future through his commitment to academic rigor and pursuit of a wide variety of interests. Not only is he a track and field state champion, but also qualified for Colorado State DECA Conference twice, is an avid tennis player, and actively participates in the Black Students Alliance.

Mallory Cleveland, Alazar’s teacher who leads the DECA program at Denver East High School, says, “Alazar loves to give back to the DECA program and our community. He is extremely well-rounded and is a pleasure to be around. Alazar is an outstanding person.”

Alazar credits much of his ambition to Junior Achievement (JA). Through programs such as JA Business Week, JA Personal Success, JA Launch Lesson, and JA Career Success, Alazar gained tangible tools he needed in order to apply his business skills and passion for learning. JA Business Week exposed Alazar to a wide array of industries and career tracks, leading him to enroll the University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business where he plans to study business management and entrepreneurship.

Zander Robinett

Zander Robinett portraitRock Canyon High School, Class of 2019

Extracurricular Involvement: DECA, FBLA, Choir, Fire Science Academy

Post-Secondary Plans: Red Rocks Community College, Studying Fire Science and Business Administration.

Junior Achievement Participation: JA Business Ethics, JA Capitalism with a Conscience, JA Personal Success, JA Company Program, JA Economics, JA Finance Park, JA Job Shadow, JA Personal Finance, JA Stock Market Challenge, JA Launch Lesson, JA Start it Up, JA High School Leaders, JA Hall of Fame Ambassador

Those who know Zander Robinett describe him as a natural and humble leader with a heart for his community. Jumping at any learning opportunity, Zander embraces an open mindset and eagerness to grow. Junior Achievement (JA) showed him how to build on his character so that he may put his skills into action.

“Junior Achievement has offered me the opportunity to advance myself within Rock Canyon High School and outside the community,” Zander says. “I’m more confident in my ability to present business solutions and collaborate with adults as well as students.”

Zander has participated in a dozen JA programs during high school, and was also a JA Student Ambassador this year at the Colorado Business Hall of Fame where he bonded with laureate Ellie Caulkins over their shared love of music and theater.

Since he was a child, Zander looked up to his grandfather who served in the Denver Fire Department, and envisioned himself becoming a firefighter as well. He enrolled in the Fire Science Program at Rock Canyon High School to prepare for a long term career and meanwhile developed a true passion for the field. Additionally, Zander plans to apply the entrepreneurial skills he learned in JA to develop a business that “focuses on the needs of firefighters and firehouses.” This fall he will study at Red Rocks Community College in pursuit of an Associate Degree in Fire Science and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration.

Calliope Cortright

Calliope Cortright portrait

Summit High School, Class of 2019

Extracurricular Involvement: Speech & Debate, FBLA, Theater/Thespian Honor Society, ProStart Culinary Team, Ethological Ethics Union, Summit High School Interact Club, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Math Honor Society, South Branch Library Volunteering

Post-Secondary Plans: Babson College, Studying Business Administration

Junior Achievement Participation: JA Business Week

The core values of Junior Achievement (JA) are embodied in students like Calliope Cortright, a Summit High School graduate who thinks critically, uses her voice, and exudes creative innovation. Her constant evolution toward excellence is driven by a keen sense of purpose and meaning. “I dreamt of a life without limits, and the path to this life resided in me,” Calliope says. She believes that it takes careful introspection to develop the kind of confidence she possesses today.

Among countless other extracurricular pursuits, Calliope founded her school’s FBLA chapter, led the Speech and Debate Team, acted in six plays and musicals, and attended JA Business Week two years in a row. JA Business Week was integral to her high school experience. She says, “JA Business Week showed me the meaning of connections…I walked out an entrepreneur, free to pursue my newfound passion and allow my creativity to shine through, to improve the world.” Marketing became one of her primary interests.

Calliope has a broad depth of knowledge and intellect that she hopes to expand. Her English teacher, Alyssa Giger, says, “Calliope’s desire to pursue post-secondary education is grounded in both the personal interest to enjoy the experience of learning and in the interest of problem-solving and communicating within the business world…her keen intellect and curious nature lead her to question in such ways that true, deep understanding may be reached.”

Next year Calliope will carry these values to Babson College in Massachusetts where she plans to major in business administration.

Jane Ly

Jane Ly portrait

DSST: Green Valley Ranch High School, Class of 2019

Extracurricular Involvement: Student Senate, Yearbook, Colorado Youth Congress, Asian Students International Alliance, Children’s Literacy Center Volunteer

Post-Secondary Plans: Colorado State University, Studying Graphic Design

Junior Achievement Participation: JA Business Week, JA Stock Market Challenge, JA Finance Park

Jane Ly is determined to make an impact by following her passions, taking risks, and embracing challenges as growth opportunities. As the Asian Students International Alliance Club leader, Student Senate Vice President, Yearbook Editor-in-Chief, and Colorado Youth Congress participant, Jane certainly dives into her community as a leader.

However, Jane’s leadership capacity didn’t always come automatically. During most of her childhood, Jane was timid, often isolating herself to cope with an ill family member and a home life in flux. She realized that she had to shift her perspective when she started high school at DSST: Green Valley Ranch if she wanted to find success.

“I had to break out of my comfort zone and be vulnerable,” Jane says. “The process wasn’t easy, but when I adapted my mind to let go of the past, I became more positive and comfortable. Entering DSST: GVRHS had changed my mindset from, ‘I don’t care about school,’ to ‘Achieving in school will help me in so many ways.’”

Junior Achievement (JA) programs also encouraged Jane to develop her sense of drive and determination. She says, “JA has helped me grow professionally and mentally, as working in teams challenged me to be stronger and more communicative…I learned how to be proactive for myself and for my peers.”

Each member of JA Business Week “companies,” or teams, has a specific assigned role, and Jane was selected as the Marketing Director of her company. This experience kicked off Jane’s career interest: graphic design, which she plans to study this fall at Colorado State University. In addition to attending JA Business Week twice, Jane also competed at the JA Stock Market Challenge and participated in the Northeast Denver Leadership Week.

Derek Anderson

Chaparral High School, Class of 2019

Extracurricular Involvement: Teen Court Volunteer, Soccer, Theater, Link Crew

Post-Secondary Plans: University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Studying Business

Junior Achievement Participation: JA Business Week

Chaparral High School senior Derek Anderson has been committed to justice throughout his whole life. When he was only a child, Derek organized a fundraiser at his elementary school which raised several hundred dollars for mosquito nets to people in countries with high malaria rates. In high school he was selected for a highly competitive volunteer position to assist the Parker Teen Court, a program designed to give first time juvenile offenders an alternative response to the traditional criminal court system. Teen Court Coordinator Carolyn Sheridan says, “I can always count on Derek not only to do what is best for each defendant…I have seen firsthand his passion for helping others.”

Derek is also a soccer player, theater crew member, freshman mentor, and three-time Junior Achievement (JA) Business Week attendee.

Mentorship has been an integral influence on Derek’s overall maturity and work ethic. Through the help of his JA Business Week advisor, Derek says he gained insight into the world of business and “a sense of direction.” He also tries to follow closely in the footsteps of his late father.

“My father helped shape my vision of success because he showed me that spending time with those you love and doing things that you enjoy is so valuable,” Derek says.

Despite the tragedy of losing a parent, Derek walked away from the experience a more patient, resilient, and proactive person. He not only preserved, but managed to maintain his academic excellence and was accepted into seven prestigious colleges. Next year he will pursue a degree in business at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

Dante Massa

Dante Massa portrait

Niwot High School, Class of 2019

Extracurricular Involvement: Band, Ski Club, Tennis

Post-Secondary Plans: University of Colorado, Studying Business Administration

Junior Achievement Participation: JA Finance Park, JA Stock Market Challenge

Junior Achievement (JA) instilled Dante Massa’s interest in business and finance, which suits him well, as pragmatism and responsibility have always been a part of his core values.

“What I love about the business and finance field is that there is always an opportunity to improve yourself,” Dante says. “My motivation in pursuing a career in finance is that I would love to help inform others on how to make smart financial decisions…I want to help people reach their goals, whether it be professionally or just bridging the gap for that special something they’re saving for.”

Dante also participated in JA Finance Park, presented by Transamerica, and won second place at JA Stock Market Challenge as a team captain. His JA Stock Market Challenge team’s success was a result of communication, planning ahead, and teamwork, Dante says. These are skills that he will leverage to excel in his future career.

On top of that, Dante is an exceptional percussionist and drum captain, plus he participates in his school’s ski club and tennis team. He was born and raised in Longmont and is excited to attend college at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Dante says, “Growing up in Longmont definitely contributed to my decision to stay in Colorado for college, as I love the beautiful scenery that this state has to offer. I am fortunate to call Colorado my home.”

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