Student Spotlight: Quinn Komar’s 18 Under Eighteen Experience
Author: Beck Harhai
Published: Tuesday, 03 Oct 2023
Image caption: Quinn Komar at the 2023 18 Under Eighteen event.
My name is Quinn Komar, and I’m from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Johnstown is located about an hour and a half east of Pittsburgh, with a population of only 19,000 people. This is why I was so surprised when I found out I was named a Junior Achievement (JA) 18 Under Eighteen honoree in December of 2022. To me, 18 Under Eighteen was an achievement for western Pennsylvania's finest - students hailing from Pittsburgh and surrounding areas within about a 20-mile radius. I didn’t think it was possible that a girl from a small town like myself would fit into such an incredible group of people.
My beginning assumptions were so wrong. When I walked into the 18 Under Eighteen media day and met the other honorees for the first time, I had the immediate feeling of love and support. My fellow honorees, though geographically different, had made me feel like I automatically belonged.
Working alongside such amazing, passionate individuals gave me the hope and confidence I needed to thrive in environments that I may have not previously considered comfortable. Over the course of four months, I developed the most incredible relationships with my peers and mentors, and all the anxiety or discomfort I originally experienced had vanished. I’m not only thrilled to have had such an amazing experience, but to also advocate for future 18 Under Eighteen classes.
Image caption: Quinn Komar accepts her 18 Under Eighteen award
What was your favorite part about being an 18 Under Eighteen honoree?
My favorite part about being an 18 Under Eighteen honoree was that I was granted the opportunity to meet so many amazing teenagers. 18 Under Eighteen allowed me to connect with people from across the state who have the same determination that I do to make the world a better place.
How did 18 Under Eighteen help to increase your personal and professional development?
18 Under Eighteen helped to increase my personal and professional environment, because it taught me to never let opportunities slip away. This program taught me to step outside of my comfort zone, to meet new people and to let myself experience things I’ve never even thought possible. 18 Under Eighteen helped open my eyes to all of the possibilities that exist in the world – both in my personal life and my professional life.
What skills did you learn as an honoree?
As an 18 Under Eighteen honoree, I learned how to navigate life through a professional lens. The program, especially the Intern to VP® leadership sessions, taught me how to act in different workplaces, allowed me to ask questions about possible future careers and helped me understand what my role was going to be in my professional future.
Image caption: Quinn Komar poses with her family at the 2023 event
What were your main takeaways about 18 Under Eighteen, JA and the next generation of leaders?
My main takeaway about 18 Under Eighteen, JA and the next generation of leaders, is that there is always hope. I worked alongside my fellow honorees for so long and saw the amount of effort they put towards their work and the amount of hope that they hold for the future. 18 Under Eighteen and JA highlights the good in our region while providing young people the resources and opportunity to succeed in their goals of changing the world.
What advice do you have for future honorees?
My advice for future honorees is to not be intimidated. I advise you to take the chance and to allow yourself the opportunity to be part of this initiative. 18 Under Eighteen is an incredible achievement and an equally amazing opportunity, and you shouldn’t let it go just because you’re scared, or because you think you’re not worthy of it, because you are.
Nominations for the 2024 18 Under Eighteen honoree class are open through October 27. Click here for more information and to begin your nomination.