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Colene Ceniglio – An Inspiring Educator & JA Partner


Colene Ceniglio Pictured Far Right

In 2016, Colene Ceniglio was working as a math teacher at one of the two high schools in Enfield, Connecticut, when the town decided to consolidate its students into one town-wide school. With the merger and a much larger student body to serve under one roof, Colene transitioned into her current role of Secondary Career Counselor and the fulfilling work of preparing students for prosperous careers.

Fortuitously, just as this big transition was underway, Colene met with JA’s educational team and Nicole Diorio asked a welcomed question; “what programming would you like to see in your school?” Inspired by that prompt, Colene, her colleagues at Enfield High School, and the JA team developed customized programming ideas and immediately started to appreciate an amazing alignment in their missions and capabilities to help teenagers be more career-ready and financially literate.

Image caption: Group Photo from JA Workshop at Enfield High School

In a recent interview, Colene shared that the first program was an on-site career panel that included five successful women from the Hartford area and the event proved to be a real inspiration for the school’s female students. Colene remarked that the panel was so well- organized and the panelists were so good that expanding the partnership was a natural.
From that beginning, Colene and her Career Counsellor colleagues at Enfield High School, Julia Barnett and Jami Botteron, have regularly brought requests for new programming and “JA would make it happen.” The partnership has continued to expand over the years and “has made programs we otherwise couldn’t do a reality.”

Among the creative programs this partnership has yielded include:
• Job shadows at Hoffman Automotive, Yard Goats, Jackson Labs, Bushnell, Global Atlantic, Microsoft, Pratt & Whitney, WFSB, and AXA XL to name a few
• A unique Career Speaker Series with representatives from 70 businesses
• Deployed Powerful Curriculum – JA Take Stock In Your Future
• Participated in a JA Career Walk, visiting leading employers across Downtown Hartford
• Hosted JA Career Connections for Young Women
• A trade and tech school day where 19 presenters engaged students in various career
• A special program for the school’s 10th graders on financial literacy, resume writing and
interviewing that was so successful that the 12th grade teachers requested this for their students and scheduled for this Fall

The impact on the students has been profound. As Colene shared, “kids get excited when JA comes to the school. These experiences give them real-world context for the challenges they face in school and why all the effort is worth it. The presenters are authentic – they’re not sugar-coating anything – and genuinely inspiring as a result.”

The number of Enfield High students participating in JA programming continues to grow and this past May, senior Julixa Minier spoke about how JA had impacted her future plans to the 600 attendees at JA’s annual breakfast. She shared:

“Answering the question ‘what would you like to do for a career?’ is not easy for most high school students. Junior Achievement works tirelessly to help students answer this question. They have given me, the students at Enfield High School, and other area high school students the opportunity to explore different career possibilities in many ways.”

With such robust programming and student engagement, the career program at Enfield High School has become the model for other schools in the area. In fact, Colene has brought her peer counselors from across the state to JA to explore how they can bring similar programming to their high schools. As she summarized, “JA is a fantastic organization – they’re always moving forward.”

When a partnership like the one between Colene Ceniglio and JA is built on aligned missions and enthusiasm, the future is made brighter for hundreds of students every year.

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