Radhames Nova, the president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Northern New England, has been working to help students pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become successful, much like he did as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic.
Nova, who rose to his current position in 2016, believes JA--an organization that promotes financial literacy, entrepreneurship and workforce readiness in students--could be the key to help today's youth, especially minorities, become future leaders in business.
According to Nova, his story is similar to many immigrants who come to the United States. He began school in the Dominican Republic, but after eighth grade went to school in the U.S. after immigrating there with his family in 1989.
After coming to the U.S. and settling in the community of Lawrence, Mass., Nova assimilated into the culture.
"I did not speak any English at all," he said, "and when I came to the United States I had to learn a new language and a new culture and a new way of life."
"I was started off at a bilingual school. I was studying in Spanish and English, but within a year I was a member of the Boys and Girls Club," he said.
Nova was able to transfer to Central Catholic High School, through the help of the club, and after graduation he managed to get into Middlebury College in Vermont.
During his time at Middlebury, Nova studied of foreign languages and was looking at an international career. By the time he graduated in 1997, he could speak English, French, Italian and his native Spanish.
After college, Nova joined the Peace Corps and spent time in South Africa helping bring education reform to that part of the world, before coming back to Lawrence and the Boys and Girls Club in Lawrence in 2000.
"I became the first director of development of the same Boys and Girls club in Lawrence, including leading the capital campaign to build a new Boys and Girls Club," he said. From there, he went to work for Fidelity Investments, but decided to shift gears after his first foray into the private sector.
"I was 35 years old and I started to think about what I really wanted to do long-term," he said. "I came to the realization that my purpose in life was to help other young people from the inner city with diverse backgrounds."
Nova became involved in the Boston chapter of ALPFA and worked to bring more Latinos on the boards of JA chapters and get professionals to volunteer with JA in the classroom.
He said throughout his career he has...