When Nyla joined the new JAG program at Tonopah Valley High School in her junior year, she had just lost her father. She felt lost and didn’t know what her future had in store for her. “When I saw JAG and what it meant and had to offer, I wanted that fresh start…to better my future.”
Nyla was going through a difficult time when her father passed. She looked to JAG for a community where she could feel supported, find the positive in her circumstances, and find her voice.
For the first time in high school, she ran for a leadership position. It was only her first year in the JAG program as a junior, but that didn’t stop her from assuming vice president of her program’s Career Association committee, a student-led board for leadership development, career exploration, social awareness, and civic service.
As vice president, Nyla has helped her fellow program officers and peers organize events such as the on-campus JAG resource fair known as JAG-A-Palooza, the program’s Initiation & Installation ceremony, a prom for the JAG and Best Buddies programs, and many more. Every step of the way, Nyla and her JAG peers had a supportive coordinator to cheer them on.
“My coordinator is Juanita Early, and what I like most about her is that no matter what, I know she will always be there for me. I doubt myself a lot. I’m an overthinker, and I’m always in my head. She never gives up on me; she pushes me to keep going. I have never had a teacher see so much potential in me, and because she does that, it keeps me going.”
Nyla certainly took on every opportunity JAG had to offer. From field trips like APS’ Women in STEM Career Day to the Employability Skills Event, she approached every opportunity with ambition and excitement. She continued to struggle with low self-esteem and feeling lost, but JAG provided the space to process her emotions and challenges while staying engaged in her community.
At JAG’s Employability Skills Event and Career Development Conference, she competed in more than three competitions and placed 1st in Public Speaking, 2nd in Housekeeping, and 3rd in the LinkedIn Competition. Overall, her Tonopah Valley JAG program placed 1st in seven competitions, 2nd place in five competitions, and 3rd place in three competitions.
After winning 1st place in the Carolyn Warner Legacy Public Speaking competition, she shared her speech about her JAG journey in front of more than 700 guests at CDC. It didn’t stop there either. Shortly after JAG’s statewide CDC, Nyla flew out with some of her fellow JAG peers to attend Jobs for America’s Graduates’ National Career Development Conference (NCDC).
At NCDC, she introduced herself to the President of Jobs for America’s Graduates, networked with JAG students from other states, and made new friends. Nyla also had the opportunity to volunteer as a speaker for a workshop on JAG-A-Paloozas, since Arizona is one of the only states that organize such an event. She shared tips on collaborating with other campus clubs to put on the event and boosting the turnout of community members, families, and students to learn more about JAG’s resources for the greater community.
“When I went on the trip, I was really nervous because I didn’t think anyone would like me. And before, I was struggling a lot with friendships. Going on the trip made me realize that I’m worth so much more than I think. I definitely want to work on being more confident in myself and knowing my purpose, my worth, and what I have to offer not only to this program but to my school, community, and this country in general.”
Now that it is the end of her junior year, Nyla’s setting her eyes on new goals for senior year. She plans to run for president of her JAG program, apply for scholarships, and send applications to NAU and ASU to study Marketing and Communications. Nyla hopes that her fellow JAG peers and incoming JAG students find their voice and sense of purpose in the program as she did.
“If I had a piece of advice for JAG students, it would be that anyone can benefit from this program, but you really have to want it for yourself. You are capable of anything, but you really have to put your mind to it. It’s not going to come easy. But just know that it will pay off in the end. Hard work always pays off. Just go out there and take those risks because you never know where it can lead you.”