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Online newspaper of Altoona Area High School in Altoona, Pennsylvania
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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The YEA experience

Students of YEA share their journeys
Miley Naugle
Women in business. From left to right, students Leah Petrunak, Rhea Liss, Miley Naugle, Kenly Bennett, and Cadence Ellick pose with their YEA plaques. After committing to weekly classes and growing their business plans, all the YEA students attended an investor panel and a graduation ceremony.

Has four years ever seemed too long to wait to start a career? To start a life? 

Those involved in YEA, or the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, agree. Afterall, why wait, when you can kickstart your future while still in high school? 

I wanted…an experience that was different and novel compared to the rest of high school,” YEA student William Zhu said. “And I got just that.”

YEA is a program offered nationwide, but the one here in Altoona is run through the Blair County Chamber. The program teaches kids (ages 11 to 18) how to start and operate a business, and helps them turn their goals into reality. 

“They gave us a business plan to fill out and lead us through the process step by step,” freshman YEA student Miley Naugle said. “They also had guest speakers and business owners come in to talk to us and give us advice. We completed a business plan and financials, but most importantly, we made a presentation and a speech to pitch our business to ten investors.”

Naugle’s business is focused on specialized photography, mainly taking candid shots of families. Her favorite part of the program was the connections she got to make because of it.

“Everybody in my class supported each other,” Naugle said. “We always knew that we could count on our classmates to tell us the truth about our business, ideas, speeches, et cetera.”

Another YEA student, John Bauman, co-owner of Calibrate, was also excited about the networking opportunities brought by the program. He found the YEA investor panel especially helpful.

“I love presenting, so it was awesome to get to present and show off my business,” Bauman said. “YEA has shown me the steps to making my business a reality.”

Bauman’s business is Calibrate, a new sports drink brand he hopes to build upon in the future. However, the investor panel was won over by another business: Zhu’s TitraTech. His company makes online lab programs for chemistry students. 

“The investor panel turned out significantly better than I could have imagined,” Zhu said. “I remember going up there and giving my pitch, though immediately after I did so, I wasn’t quite sure what I said. It was as though it got erased from my memory. Then I answered the investor panel questions which was a bit nerve wracking. I somehow won, which I’m still in a bit of disbelief, but I am very grateful for it as now I can pursue my business dream.”

Zhu contributes his victory to not only the program, but the people within it, and even a mentor.

“YEA has given me the opportunity to meet with so many amazing people to help make my aspiration a reality,” Zhu said. “I need to thank my mentor, Mr. Barnhart, for being so amazing and helping me so much along the way whenever I needed it… the YEA program and my classmates gave me the motivation to continue even when it was difficult.”

Even for those who didn’t take first place, they got to walk away with something. Naugle was granted $250 from the investors after giving her pitch.

“I knew my speech and all of my information inside and out so I was very confident,” Naugle said. “I would recommend YEA to anyone who is interested. It is an amazing program that helps you with so many things and they guide you along the whole time. Everyone is so kind, helpful and supportive.”

Video by Melissa Krainer Music by Lynne Publishing and semplice
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About the Contributors
Mattie Baker
Mattie Baker, Reporter
My name is Mattie Baker, and this is my first year on staff! I've always loved reading and writing. My goal this year is to write a complete book. My dream job, at the moment, is to work at Barnes & Nobles and drink Starbucks on the daily. I'm obsessed with action movies like "Bullet Train," "John Wick" and "James Bond." I also have a passion for art. I've been taking extra art classes for over 10 years! Later in my life, I hope to be a storyboard artist and author.
Miley Naugle
Miley Naugle, Reporter
My name is Miley Naugle, I am a 10th grade reporter on the AAHS Mountain Echo. This is my second year on the staff and my third year as a reporter. My favorite thing to do as a part of the staff, was take photos. I started writing on the Livewire staff in 8th grade. I love to take photos and write sports stories. I also like to run, I have been running since 7th grade. I run Cross Country and long distance for Track. I am part of the Student Council and I am also in chorus. In my free time I enjoy hanging out with my friends and spending time with my little sister.

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