Alum Spotlight: Lenoa Williamson

The Westview alum joined JAG in her final year of high school to be part of a community and prepare for her future.
May 1, 2023

When Lenoa began her first year of high school, she knew she wanted to grow from whom she was in middle school. One of her first ambitions was to pursue a leadership role in her second semester of high school. She felt she could develop her leadership skills to make school an environment that everyone can enjoy.

“I like to put myself out there in a way that could help others and provide guidance. I liked that position and being able to grow with others and see other aspects of school rather than just academically,” Lenoa said.

Lenoa grew into a leader in her community, serving as President of Avondale City Youth Commission and Vice President for Westview High School’s Student Government. But after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown closed her school campus, Lenoa felt isolated from the community she came to love and the person she was growing into. 

When her high school finally reopened, and students returned to in-person classes her senior year, she joined JAG to receive the support she needed and prepare for graduation. 

“In a way, it was such a safe haven! I’m not even trying to exaggerate that,” Lenoa expressed. “It was a safe haven every time I was there and was a decompressor, even if I was learning that day. I knew that I would have a good time just by the people I was surrounded by and my coordinator.”

Mr. Christopher Kallmes, her JAG Coordinator, became a major part of her support system. 

“He is an amazing coordinator because he is so thoughtful and very interactive in the sense that he wants you to do well, and he will do anything he can to help you do well. He definitely cares about his students and shows his appreciation and gratitude….He was one of the main reasons why I enjoyed the class.”

Through her JAG class, Lenoa found an environment where she could balance her academics and leadership roles and learn other valuable skills for her future.

“JAG motivated me to learn the hard things in life, whether it was financials, taxes, investing, or career. That may seem like the boring stuff, but it opened my eyes to how easy it could be and how impactful it can be in my life.” 

After graduating in 2022, Lenoa enrolled in ASU to study Innovation and Society. She hopes to make a difference in the areas of technology and science as well as grow her understanding of  the impact of ethics in future innovations. 

During her first year in college, Lenoa sought support and reached out to JAG’s Social Services Program Coordinator. From there, Lenoa received mentorship and enrolled in SNAP CAN, an Arizona Department of Economic Security financial assistance program for SNAP-eligible youth and families. JAG works with the program to help JAG youth to cover the costs of their education, professional development, and any other related expenses. 

“It has really helped me stay on track, and I think that could benefit other people and anybody who is thinking that they need a little guidance or motivation while they are in school and after graduation.”

Lenoa’s experience with SNAP CAN and follow-up with her JAG Coordinator, Mr. Kallmes, have been nothing short of beneficial for her transition from the small high school campus she was familiar with to the large college campus of ASU.  

“I like the aspect of being able to go to somebody and seek that help without feeling like it is a burden. I love the support that I have received and the opportunity, really.”

For Lenoa, JAG was much more than a career and college readiness class, it was a class where she could show up as herself, connect with others, and learn important life lessons all at the same time.

“I love that no matter what, they are always trying to seek the best for you and even understand you in a way that nobody else really does or takes the time to. I definitely appreciate that and all the opportunities that come with JAG, including meeting people and networking, the conferences, field trips, and SNAP CAN program.”

Learn more about all the opportunities students have to engage in their community, grow as leaders, and prepare for graduation through our Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

Author:
Kaylee Craig
Grants Coordinator
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