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Meet the 19-year-old whose education startup is already worth millions

At the age of 19, imagine having the title of CEO, overseeing 100 staff members and ensuring a top quality educational experience for just over a thousand students. It’s a pretty damn impressive achievement.

Jessica Sun, however, is all too familiar with performing under pressure. In an interview with Forbes, Sun recounted her difficult learning experiences during middle school and high school.

Having trouble focusing and retaining information in class, her learning became belated. She says,

“After sitting through the day I would go home and learn all the material from scratch.”

In struggling to keep up with her peers, Sun began to internalize the issue, setting high standards for herself and concluding that her inability to learn in class was solvable by simply working harder.

It took her to reach college until Sun was given an answer to her learning difficulties. In her first year of college, at Northeastern University, she was diagnosed with adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, (ADHD).

Sun has applied her past educational experiences to the project of co-founding an education startup, called Lumos Debate. The educational startup offers programs orientated around public speaking and debate.

The program’s activities provide kids from the age of 8-15, the research and writing skills needed to help formulate their own arguments. These skills are not only important skills for effective communication and valuable to develop their own critical thinking.

Crucially, it also aids in instilling confidence in young people to believe in their own ideas and public speaking ability.

With an impressive student to teacher ratio of 6:1, the program provides a highly personalized educational model, offering a level of attention to students, but importantly, a staff that is dedicated to being always receptive to the needs of every student.

Debating activities and games offer students exposure to current issues and events. Plus, the activities provide the necessary framework needed to create and break down an argument. Launching only last year, Lumos Debate has proven to be a major success. According to the Forbes report,

“Lumos ran 15 camps in 2017 and 23 camps in 2018. It will run more than 23 camps in 2019, serving around 1,200 kids with more than 100 instructors and additional staff.”

With Sun’s graduation in 2021, she still has aspirations for Lumos to grow, expressing to Forbes that she wants the curriculum to incorporate business studies, mock trails and a model U.N.

In light of the current political climate, what Sun and her co-founder, Zeph Chang (who now serves as the camps educational director), ultimately want students to take out of Lumos, is to feel comfortable and confident to speak up and share their opinions and to apply their argumentative skills and critical thinking when presented with information and rhetoric that can be so easily absorbed and disseminated around the world.