Shanahyah Hairston was a junior at Paradise Valley High School when she won the 2020 CDC Carolyn Warner Public Speaking Competition in May 2020. She wrote her essay based on the Career Development Conference Theme, There’s no place like JAG. Poised and passionate; Shanahyah shared with us how JAG had become her home away from home and has helped her to dream big again.
Before Shanahyah joined JAG, she wasn’t feeling too great about her high school experience or her plans after graduation. In fact, she hadn’t really made connections with her peers and still felt she was living in a different world. Shanahyah was born in Detroit, Michigan and attended school there until the 5th grade when her mom was given the opportunity for a position in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“I didn't want to raise the girls there. Detroit is very different and sometimes very dangerous.” Her mother, Keisa, recalls. Shanahyah was upset about the move and was angry when she began the 6th grade in Arizona. During high school, she struggled to make connections and admits lacking direction and motivation until she entered her JAG program. “My JAG coordinator is like a guide, a doorkeeper who shows you all these opportunities and sets the keys in front of you.” Shanahyah said about her JAG Coordinator at Paradise Valley High School. “Ms. Gorman showed us that she cared and went out of her way to help us.”
Shanahyah’s mom believes JAG changed her daughter’s outcome. “I’ve seen JAG help my child. She didn't know what to do, she was angry and not happy and didn't know how to make friends and interact with people.” Keisa said, “The impact that JAG had on my daughter has been phenomenal,”
“There's so many different pathways you can take after school. JAG helps you learn your personality, your likes, and your qualities. I feel that JAG shows you how to create a life after high school.” Shanahyah is currently attending Arizona State University and says she is enjoying her learning experience as she’s studying for her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. “I want to study in an area that benefits me in all aspects of life, communication, writing, and growing into another strong talent,” she said.
Shanahyah is currently working for a mortgage company that works with her educational goals. “Every day I go to work, I remember JAG. All the moments where we practiced job interviews and building our career. All the speakers who I listened to, I truly admire those times, because now it's paying off.”
Read more alumni stories HERE.