When were you introduced to JAG and when did you decide to join it?
I started my sophomore year of high school. A friend of mine - we were picking out electives and she said ‘it’ll be fun, we’ll be in the same class’. So I joined and I didn’t think too much of it - but within the first couple days I was like : “this is the best class ever. Where has this been all my life?”
What did you remember the most about your JAG Coordinator?
I still keep communication with her to this day. She is an incredible human being - the patience of this woman is beyond measure. She really poured her heart and soul into every student that walked through her door. Regardless of their mindset or behavior - she really took the time.
Do you remember any specific advice that she gave you?
I love telling this story - it was not framed as advice, it was more - she was the reason I picked my career, that I love. I’m eight years deep, I can’t picture myself doing anything else. I walked into her classroom late and instead of punishing me she said, “I want you to sit in the back of the classroom and think about your future.” I looked up and there was this poster of a nurse holding an older man’s hand and I was intrigued. I said Mrs. Mortinson you have to tell me more. She said “ok, instead of you getting in trouble why don’t you take the time after class to look up everything there is to know about nursing.” And that day I sat in front of a computer and I looked up everything there was to know about nursing.
What leadership roles did you have in JAG?
The leadership roles that they allowed me to have - it gave me a lot of purpose and responsibility. Besides being treasurer, running for JAG Office, going to Leadership conferences. Helping with seminars and posters - being involved in public speaking competitions - I was able to go to D.C. I won 2nd Place, 1st place in Arizona. They helped me utilize all of my assets. I was able to come back and lead my classmates and you know, string them along, and help them with similar situations to I had been in.
Tell us a little bit about your life after graduation.
So I was lucky - or purposeful, I’m not really sure which - I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I needed to figure out the steps to do that. The steps and stipulations to get to it seemed really difficult, but JAG really helped me outline the steps I needed to take to get where I wanted to be. From helping with applying to University, applying for scholarships, figuring out class schedules. After graduating High School I went right into Arizona State University to get my prerequisites. After that I applied to the ASU program, but I was told there would be a waiting list - even though I had a 4.0 and a full-ride. At that time in my life I couldn’t wait any longer. I was not well off financially, I didn’t really have a stable home environment. I wanted my life to start as soon as possible. So that’s when I talked to my coordinator, I said I don’t think I can wait on a list to get into this program. And she said “Well if this isn’t the way, find another way.” So I found another way and I went to GCU. I got into their accelerated program and I graduated 19 months into the program and I got my nursing degree. And I’ve been doing it 8 years - the best 8 years of my life.
What advice do you have for current JAG students?
I could talk about this for like two days, but my best advice is figure out what you want to do and do it. There’s gonna be people who say no you can’t, or it’s a money thing or a time thing. Don’t listen to anything or anybody like that. If you have a goal or a purpose just work towards it everyday. Especially with what’s going on right - this is a minor setback - this does not dictate your life’s purpose or what you want to do in your career. I really think the most important thing is to find what you want to do. And it’s a long way to law school or medical school, or working in finance or becoming a photographer.