Tonopah Valley High School started its partnership with JAG in 2022, creating a JAG program on campus for juniors and seniors. The JAG program has since provided opportunities for students in the rural community to receive support in academics, leadership development, public speaking, career and college readiness, and networking.
As a senior, Adam joined JAG to learn more about his options after graduation. He comes from a low-income background and saw how his family’s jobs in the medical field helped them gain financial security. While he was inspired by their careers, he wasn’t sure of the career options in the medical field that would align with his skills and interests.
“I joined JAG because it’s in the name Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates, I thought that maybe they could lead me to a place where I know what I want to do with my life….For plans after high school, I would always leave that to the future and not worry about it until it’s time. But JAG helped me realize where I want to be.”
Adam knew what he wanted out of a job from working at Love’s Gas Station and Burger King. Through those jobs, he learned that he wanted a wage that helped him provide for his parents and sister, and he needed benefits for his health and well-being. JAG’s college tours and employability skills events (such as the interview skills competition) helped him realize that he could secure high-paying jobs and even grow his career prospects by attending college.
“When we took a trip to Phoenix College that was when I realized that I wanted to go to college. I realized that I wanted to take their dentistry program there. After that, I started having ideas about my future and visited multiple colleges like GCU, Glendale Community College, and EMCC.”
JAG’s Pre-Career Development Conference, a competition-based event that came before the final competitions at the conference, provided Adam with opportunities to practice his interviewing skills and professionalism with employers.
“Before when I used to get interviewed by people, I wasn’t really sure what to ask or what to say. During job interviews when I would get interviewed, I would get nervous because I didn’t know what they would ask me. But after hearing the do’s and don’ts during a professional interview, I realized that it’s not that bad. So when I got interviewed by the employers for the Pre-CDC event, I got out of my shell because I got good feedback. I thought if I could get interviewed like that, and it went pretty well, then what is the worst that can happen? …I noticed once I got more confident in the way that I spoke, I was able to get jobs on the spot.”
In addition to growing his professionalism and goals for the future, Adam also enjoyed participating in activities and events through his JAG program’s partnership with the special education program on campus.
Every Thursday, he and his JAG classmates would visit with their fellow junior and senior classmates to form friendships and create inclusive spaces on campus. Together, they even held a prom as some of the students weren’t able to attend some of the dances or other events throughout the year.
“We hang out with them and draw or color, watch a movie, go on the field or play basketball—do things like that so they don’t feel alone; they’re in high school, and they have people here that want to be with them. My favorite moment in JAG is when we had the prom in our gym. There was food, candy, banners, balloons—things to make them feel special.”
Adam graduated with the Class of 2023 in May. But his JAG journey doesn’t end there. He’ll have the support of his JAG coordinator, Juanita Early, for a year and beyond to navigate life after graduation and to achieve his post-secondary education goals.
Adam’s piece of advice for JAG students: “Don’t be shy. If you’re joining JAG, you should know that no one is there to judge you. We are all there to grow and better ourselves.”
We look forward to supporting Adam as he studies at his local community college and prepares for the dentistry program at Phoenix College!
Want to learn how you can bring JAG to your school? Learn more HERE