It’s always great for a small business when its founder and CEO is honored for their achievements. It announces to the world what they are capable of, while also validating the company they have built and the team they have assembled.
Yes, it’s always cause for celebration, but to those of us at SIMETRI this honor feels particularly special. Maybe that’s because everything about Junior Achievement and their Mid-Florida Business Hall of Fame ceremony so closely aligns with who Angela Alban is and what she stands for.
On October 29th, Junior Achievement will be inducting and honoring four respected entrepreneurs—Robert Finfrock, Linda Goodwin-Nichols, Tony Jenkins, and our own Angela Alban—as part of a Hall of Fame event unlike any they have presented before. Due to the current circumstances we are all too familiar with, the organization has completely re-imagined their 43rd annual ceremony. They have converted 2020’s Hall of Fame celebration into a one-of-a-kind virtual event that will give attendees a creative new way to support JA, its mission, and the students it impacts.
Junior Achievement is taking what others might see as a limitation and using it as an opportunity to create something bold, innovative, and impressive. That is an attitude we here at SIMETRI can relate to—an attitude developed and reinforced directly by Angela, who is being recognized as this year’s Entrepreneurial Vanguard.
But that’s just skimming the surface. The truly significant reason this honor feels so personal to us is not what JA is doing on October 29th, but the work they have already been doing for decades. Their mission mirrors the same core concepts that drive Angela forward and influence everything she does: Finding solutions that have a real-world impact and giving back to the Central Florida community.
At SIMETRI, the problems we solve are generally in our Medical Simulation and Training wheelhouse. There is an emergency medical procedure that needs to be replicated, and we figure out how to do that. We artistically craft a realistic body part, we integrate technology, we engineer a training system, we manufacture the products, and hire staff to implement everything. Our effort pays off in better prepared medical care providers for those on the battlefield or at a disaster site, and we sleep well knowing we’ve done our part.
Junior Achievement works to solve a much broader problem, and it’s one that requires the combined efforts of devoted employees, volunteers, donors, and sponsors to handle. JA’s problem is figuring out how to make sure the next generation is better off than the one that came before it. Their solution is to give students all the skills and resources that are necessary to grow into capable, responsible, and successful members of the community.
Whenever she is asked where her own entrepreneurial attitude and sense of community began, the first words out of Angela Alban’s mouth are always, “My parents.” It was not just the lessons they taught their children that had an impact, but the strong examples of resolve and perseverance that they set. Like so many others, Angela’s success story isn’t just the result of one person’s work ethic and ambition, but an entire family’s. Not every child is as lucky.
Somewhere in our community, right at this very moment, there is a child growing up with limitless potential but no one in her life to teach her how to navigate an incredibly confusing adult world. She might have a brilliant mind and an intrinsic drive to succeed, but the older she gets the more it seems like the odds are stacked against her and there just aren’t as many opportunities open to her as there are for other kids. Maybe the adults in her life are too overwhelmed with work to teach her about things like finances and economics, or maybe they never learned those skills in the first place. We tell our children that everyone in our society has the opportunity to be whatever they want to be, that it just takes hard work and commitment, but she is starting to seriously doubt that notion.
She has the potential to grow up and become a valued member of the workforce, a pillar of her community, a leader of her generation. Sadly, the way she feels right now is that adulthood will only bring additional complications that she is unprepared to handle and burdens that she doesn’t know how to bear. She has no idea where she will fit into the real world, and she isn’t looking forward to entering it.
This is where Junior Achievement comes in. Not every child understands the boundless opportunity that American free enterprise provides because so many of them haven’t been given the tools and the skills necessary to thrive in such an environment. When it comes to financial literacy or economic success, many children are not blessed with positive examples to learn from or mentors to lead them. JA shapes young lives by equipping our next generation’s potential leaders and entrepreneurs with the knowledge, resources, and confidence required to set ambitious goals and see them through, regardless of their economic background.
At SIMETRI, it’s a point of pride that we develop our products and services from start to finish—concept to implementation—so that we know every step of the process is done right. Junior Achievement does the same thing, but with active young minds instead of anatomical models. JA has developed programs for students of all ages—from kindergarten all the way through to high school graduation—so that the foundations of success can be laid and built upon gradually over the course of their academic career. The wide range of programs they offer teachers and their students cover issues that are essential to thriving in modern society: personal finance, complex economic principles, employer demands, family and community economics, career planning, entrepreneurship, and more.
In addition to their extensive roster of programs and events—which Angela got to experience herself as a student at Winter Park High School some years ago—Junior Achievement has developed a way to become even more invested in the guidance and mentorship of individual students. The JA Academy for Leadership and Entrepreneurship & 3DE curriculum is designed to integrate a high caliber academic education with business and leadership concepts. Students from a variety of backgrounds have the full benefit of networking, volunteering, internships, and qualified mentors to help illuminate the path to higher education and limitless career opportunities. The overall impact on the development of these future leaders and entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. (You can support one of these students by joining JA’s Scholar Society.)
Angela will be fielding questions from one of these future success stories as part of the Hall of Fame event on October 29th. A JA student will have the opportunity to ask her about her career experiences and what it means to be an entrepreneur in this community. It’s this cycle of influence that is critical to building a strong support structure for developing minds as they begin to figure out where they may be headed and what they may be capable of. Just as Angela was inspired by the lives and lessons of family members and career mentors, her experiences as an entrepreneur may help to guide the next generation of founders and CEOs toward their own dreams.
SIMETRI is a business, and in an industry like ours a business needs to know that there are responsible, skilled, career-driven young professionals entering the workforce in the years to come. We are grateful that an organization like Junior Achievement is there to make sure that happens. We are honored that they have chosen Angela as their Entrepreneurial Vanguard this year, we are proud to call her our CEO, and we offer our heartfelt congratulations to her fellow honorees.