Success Story: Jailah
Every year, only twenty young adults graduating nationally from the JAG program are selected to be Smith Scholars, a $1000 renewing scholarship award given to a student who exemplifies leadership and service. The recipient is able to use this award toward paying for college. This year, one of the twenty students selected is from Marion County.
Jailah is the President of the North Central JAG Career Association and she has come a long way to get to where she is now. Born in Gary, Indiana, she began her life in an area prone to crime and poverty. Because her father was in the Navy, shortly after she was born, her family moved to Virginia Beach and lived there until she started fifth grade at Washington Township in Indianapolis, where she had the opportunity to meet a whole new community. “I feel like moving when I was very young helped me to be able to talk and connect to everybody,” says Jailah, reflecting on her early years.
Jailah was first introduced to JAG as a freshman in high school – her brother had gone through the two-year program and was a graduating senior. When she entered her junior year and was able to enroll, she embraced the program, diving in and competing for the first time at the Career Development Conference in the writing competition. After winning first at Regionals, Jailah went onto state and didn’t place. She was devastated. “It was at that moment when I remember having the thought, ‘I don’t think she had ever had an experience that she felt like she didn’t achieve what she wanted to,’” says Jessica Kleffman, Jailah’s JAG Specialist.
Jailah always says, “I don’t look at challenges as obstacles, I look at them as hurdles.” She came back and won Outstanding Senior and then placed in State the following year. Because of her nomination as Outstanding Senior, Jailah was automatically put in the running to be one of the 2018 Smith Scholars and her stellar resume and essays did the rest.
“I don’t look at challenges as obstacles, I look at them as hurdles.”
Right now, Jailah is enlisted into the United States Navy and will be attending classes at Ball State right after she completes basic training. Her dream is that she will be a nurse in the military, double majoring in nursing and athletic training. “I like to have options and diversity when it comes to work and never want my days to be the same,” says Jailah.