Jenna Flores first heard about LEADS in her junior year from her coordinator, Mr. Klem, former JAG member Hazel Raymond, and former LEADS Ixchel Garcia. From middle school student council historian to JAG vice president of career development in her junior year, her growth as a leader has been a steady progression. Assuming vice president/secretary and LEADS president roles in her senior year was the next step in accomplishing more of her goals.
“Before, it didn’t come naturally to me. I didn’t know I had the ability to take care of all these things, but it really makes me happy so I make time for it,” she said.
In her final year of high school and second year of JAG, she has identified a few goals to reach by graduation. In addition to striving for straight A’s and graduating high school, she has exciting goals for her LEADS journey.
“One of my goals, which I actually just broke was the public speaking one, and I broke that at the Leadership Conference. My new goal is to be the best at D.C. [National Student Leadership Academy conference] and to be an accountable person who my other LEADS can fall back on or listen to. We have three junior LEADS, and I want to be an example for them so they can go out into the world and be better than I am.”
LEADS have the opportunity to attend two major leadership conferences, organize statewide events with JAG staff, and lead community service initiatives. The opportunity she looks forward to the most is traveling and attending NSLA where she can show off her public speaking and leadership to students across the nation.
“I’m looking forward to the Washington D.C. trip because other than California, I have never really been anywhere. I feel like LEADS has helped me grow and sadly I’m becoming an adult—this is my senior year and I’m graduating—but LEADS has helped me grow and become my full potential.”
Since joining JAG, she has enjoyed how the environment and her JAG family encourage her to explore her passions and interests—giving her the base from which to launch into her aspirations. No other class has really provided that space or community for her.
“I love everything about JAG. I love how JAG is like a family. When I come into the classroom, I feel comfortable. I feel like it’s not even a class. I can relax and truly express myself. With my other classes, it’s stressful and you have to get everything done especially as a senior. Then JAG gives me that break where I can show my creative side and my art skills. I just love that it’s a family. That’s my favorite.”
Through the career exploration activities JAG incorporates into the curriculum and her own interests since childhood, she has identified her goals for post-graduation.
“After graduation, I plan to attend GCU in the fall, my dream college! My junior JAG coordinator is a GCU graduate, she roped me in, and I was like well I love it, I’m going to have to go there! That’s one of my goals. I plan to major in animation and minor in business.”
Aside from learning to draw from her sister, animation has always been something that has inspired her.
“When I was little, I had a VCR with VHS tapes of my Disney princess movies. The Little Mermaid was my favorite. At the end of the movies, they show you how they are made, and I would wait through the credits just so I could watch that part. I loved watching and seeing how they created it—I was so inspired! And then when coming into high school, I thought back and was like ‘what am I going to do? I’m going to graduate before I know it, and I need to know what I’m going to do.’ I looked back into myself and that was all that I could think of. And they say ‘do what makes you happy.’ So I decided then and there.”
As Flores accomplishes her goals and prepares for her post-graduation plans, she will have a supportive community that will be cheering her on every step of the way.
“LEADS has prepared me for the real world, and still, as a child, I don’t know what the real world holds. I feel that they are here to help me be successful, such as with my communication skills, my collaboration, my participation, and my motivation.”
Learn more about our other 2022-2023 LEADS here.
Support our LEADS trip to JAG National Student Leadership Academy conference in D.C. by donating HERE.