In 2021, Frida Medrano was determined to join the JAG program at Copper Canyon High School. JAG was that program where she could improve her grades and grow outside of her comfort zone. While Frida couldn’t join JAG in her junior year due to academic restraints, 2022 opened new doors for her as a senior.
With the encouragement of her JAG Coordinator, she applied for our University of Phoenix leadership program (LEADS) and ran for President of her JAG program. These would be her first leadership positions since middle school. Her Coordinator gave her that extra push she needed to take on not one but two leadership roles.
As a leader for both programs, she was faced with new challenges to overcome. She is finishing her final year of a two-year certificate program at West-MEC for hairstyling that she attends every day after school. Unfortunately, due to her busy schedule, she started falling behind in one of her classes. But she didn’t give up. She reached out to her JAG Coordinator about her options, and he didn’t hesitate to support her in getting back on track.
“He made me feel like I wasn't alone in that whole process — like I wasn't the only one struggling,” Frida said. “He made me feel like he really did care about having me in this class.”
Now she is finishing that course and on track to credit recovery. Then came the challenge of fulfilling her leadership roles and achieving her other goals. Outside of earning her certificate to work with her mom in her salon, another personal goal of hers is to improve her confidence.
In December 2022, she traveled to Washington D.C. with LEADS to attend the Jobs for America’s Graduates’ National Student Leadership Academy (NSLA). It was at NSLA where her inner leader shined brightly in front of her fellow LEADS, members of Congress, and other professionals. Normally, she would be intimidated to speak with strangers, especially career professionals and leaders. By the end of the trip, she felt eager to speak her mind and used situations that previously made her uncomfortable as fuel to push forward. One of those very opportunities came when she met Arizona 3rd Congressional District Representative Grijalva.
“When it was my turn to speak to him, it brought back that memory of emailing him in the eighth grade, and I felt like I had come full circle,” she said. “I felt really proud, and I thought of my parents. I started talking a little about my parents because I felt since they couldn’t be there, at least part of their stories should stay in D.C..”
Both her parents lived in ranch communities in Mexico before moving to the U.S. at her age. They struggled to navigate living in a new country where they didn’t know anyone and couldn’t speak the language. Their stories pushed Frida to take on opportunities that they didn’t have and to ensure a future for herself and her family.
“Because sometimes, as a first-generation daughter and daughter of both immigrant parents, I feel like they've sacrificed a lot for me…. All I really want is for them to be happy, and I really want us to be successful and to give them the life that they deserve; the life that they've been fighting for; the life that they dreamed for. And I hope that I can get there someday….JAG has provided me with a platform to stand on my feet and figure out ways I can do that.”
Frida is on track to graduate this year and finish the West-MEC certificate program. She attributes JAG to where she is today and is hopeful for the future ahead.
“In previous years, I didn’t really care much about school. I was just going with the flow and not trying to find something that inspired me or that I was passionate about. Once I joined JAG, I realized there are so many opportunities out there that I didn’t even consider before…. JAG will bring out that person you want to be.”
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Read more about our other LEADS and their experience in the program:
West Point JAG Vice President/Secretary Jenna Flores joined LEADS to become a better leader and public speaker. Read her story HERE.
Shadow Mountain JAG President Noah Chapman joined to become more involved in his community and network for his future goal of running a business. Read his story HERE.