Get to know Jakiya, one of Access Opportunity's Student Ambassadors for the 2022-23 school year.
Jakiya is a Junior at Thomas Jefferson High School. She is in her first year in Access Opportunity as a member of the Class of 2028, and is already looking forward to going to college to pursue a career in the medical field. Throughout the year, we will get to know her better through her stories, experiences, and advice for her fellow AO students.
In Her Own Words
My name is Jakiya Morrow! I am a 11th grade (a.k.a a Junior) and I attend Thomas Jefferson High School. I enjoy studying subjects such as English, art, science, and even math even though it's my hardest subject. After high school, I am interested in going to a HBCU college to pursue a career in the medical field to be a nurse. I am also interested in helping others and very interested in social justice!
I have been involved in a few different clubs/groups throughout high school. These clubs include Challenge 5280, BIPOC Empowerment Leadership, Student Council, and more social justice/student leader clubs. In these clubs, students share experiences that make people aware of social issues in our country, talk about topics like cultural appropriation, and become informed about other people's backgrounds. We are involved in the school's affairs, working in partnership with school leadership, staff & parents, helping with fundraisers and volunteer work, helping people in need, then to help finding solutions to justice inequality, and finding long term policies to make a better place for students.
I am interested in joining the honors society this year along with many more social justice and clubs such as Black Student Alliance (BSA). I also was involved in basketball and have an interest in joining volleyball this year also!
AO: How did you feel when you first found out that you got into Access Opportunity?
Jakiya: When finding out about getting into Access Opportunity I was so excited, but also nervous because I tend to overthink situations (which imposter syndrome can worsen). During the application process I doubted myself, and when I saw that I got accepted, I felt like I didn't deserve it in a way since there were more students who tried to apply but didn't get in. I thought I was going to feel isolated due to my shyness and quietness when having in-person meetings.
But I realized AO is just like a home. Everyone is like family, and I knew that getting accepted happened for a reason and I can never take the opportunities given to me for granted.
AO: This past year we have all been able to come together much more in-person and start to experience school and life in this new phase of the pandemic. We have been working hard and that is cause for celebration! Is there a highlight or accomplishment from the past year that made you feel proud?
Jakiya: I felt accomplished because I got all A's from the previous school year, which I managed to do while also getting my driving permit and looking for a job! This made me very proud because I also did it all while navigating the effects of the pandemic (including mental health and finding more social skills). It feels good to be more independent and start doing things for me that help elevate me and that I can be proud of. It just assists in changing me into a greater person.
AO: While the past year has been rejuvenating in many ways, it has also been hard and tiring in other ways. How are you doing? Is there a time you experienced hardship in the past year and what helped you manage it or overcome it?
Jakiya: This past year has had its ups and downs with significant changes along the way. One of the biggest examples that was newer for me was feeling Imposter Syndrome. Doing online school for three years made it hard to maintain relationships through stress, and it made objectives very hard to focus on especially when I doubt myself a lot. Imposter Syndrome has been an interesting experience because I do overthink, I am shy, and it's hard for me to talk to people (especially after the pandemic.) But as of right now I am doing better, going back in-person finally, and trying to focus on myself for the better (including working on my social skills and my mental health). I also am trying to experience things out of my comfort zone and start attacking my weaknesses head-on to become a stronger and more resilient person.
AO: Who is part of your personal support system? How do you support each other through life's highs and lows?
Jakiya: Not only are my family and friends my personal support system in my life, but also my fellow peers at AO. Everyone is like family. When I am mentally struggling I know that I can lean on them because they are there to help me get through the struggles I am facing and support me throughout the whole process to get me back on the right path/track.
Even with the positive highs that appear in my life, having these important people in my life is special because with each individual's different successes, we are there to help celebrate each other and support each other's accomplishments generously and I know we can always count on each other. We come together just like a big family.
AO: What have you experienced as a first-gen or underrepresented student at your school?
Jakiya: One of the biggest challenges is trying to find the financial support I need when it comes to my education when living in a low-income community. It's not just the fact that I am a low-income African American student, but additionally, the anxiety of always having to prove myself more to others that I have what it takes and am serious about my education. This can include social challenges to prove that I can do what others can even with the color of my skin. It can be difficult trying to find support that can help navigate me throughout the process/system.
AO: What advice would you give to other students in a similar situation?
Jakiya: Don't be scared to take risks and don't doubt yourself! Never forget how far you pushed through! Just get out of those comfort zones and do it! Especially under hardship. It may be hard but you can do anything if you put your mind to it and all into it.
Cope with failures and learn from mistakes. Mistakes help us grow and turn individuals into better people. Whatever you're going through is not who you are and doesn't define you as a person. But also remember not to overwork yourself, don't keep those feelings in, and take time to yourself! You don't need to finish everything at once! You come first and can always come back to your tasks later. You matter, you deserve happiness too, and your feelings deserve to be validated! It's okay not to be okay!
Stay tuned for more of Jakiya's stories throughout the year!