Local Student Excels in JAG Competitions
Writer / Matt Keating
Mateo Salazar, a Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program participant at Tippecanoe Valley High School, says he will never forget attending a JAG Career Development Conference that enabled him to further his personal goals.
Salazar was one of several young people who competed against many other JAG students in competitions that gave them the opportunity to show their mastery of specific JAG competencies.
Salazar, a graduating senior at Tippecanoe Valley High School, received first place at the regional competition, and then went on to the state competition. Salazar was thrilled that he went as far as he did in the competitions, and was glad he was picked to be a part of the programs.
“I was selected by my JAG specialist to attend the conference because she thought I would excel in my competition,” Salazar says. “I moved forward from the regional competition in South Bend, Indiana, after winning first place in the Outstanding Senior category, and I attended the State Career Development Conference at Ivy Tech in Indianapolis, where I won third place in my category.”
As a result of his win at the regional competition, he was selected to attend the National Career Development Association’s inaugural National Career Development Conference.
“It was there that I competed in the Prepared Speaking category, where I placed in the top 10 in the nation,” Salazar says. “I also had the opportunity of being one of four emcees who led the ceremony, attended by over 600 people.”
Salazar treasured every moment of the competitions.
“Most importantly, I was able to represent JAG of Indiana in my position as voting delegate in the National Career Association,” he says. “Voting delegates from 39 states voted to select the first-ever team of student leaders, our NCA officers.”
Salazar notes that the JAG program teaches extremely valuable life lessons.
“JAG is a class geared towards teaching students to be confident, employable and successful,” he says. “Thus, our competitions give students an opportunity to showcase these skills.”
Salazar adds that the competition has different categories.
“The competitions at the state and regional levels are as follows – Employability Skill, Business Plan, Writing Skills, Public Speaking, Financial Literacy, and many others including the prestigious Outstanding Senior competition,” Salazar says. “The national competition opens up opportunities like the Knowledge Bowl and the Voting Delegacy.”
Salazar also enjoyed meeting other people at the regional and state competitions.
“There were really a lot of different participants who had so many skill sets in particular areas,” he says. “It was a great opportunity to learn more about business plans, public speaking and other areas. It was also a great way to make business connections. There were people there who were able to tell me a lot about what areas they knew a lot about. The JAG program is a wonderful opportunity for young people that I highly recommend.”
Salazar says he had a very busy senior year.
“I was involved with JAG and band throughout the whole school year,” he says. “This was my seventh year being involved in band and I have always really enjoyed it. I was also busy with drama in the fall, and the annual musical in the spring.”
Salazar plans to attend Ball State University in the fall.
“I want to pursue a degree in math education,” Salazar says. “It’s something I enjoy and I think it would really be a big opportunity for me.”
Salazar’s mother Natalie is beaming over her son’s JAG accomplishments and future plans.
“He is doing amazing things, and his dad and I are very proud of him,” she says. “He will continue to follow his dreams and go very far.”