Stories of Hope

Meet Jaissiah- Mott Family Scholarship Recipient

Growing up, I was surrounded by family and friends who valued education. My friends and I would encourage each other to be the best and we often had friendly competitions over who would get the best grade on a test or paper. We all had our eyes on college and everywhere I turned, my friends were in my corner, motivating me to be my best self.

That all changed when I turned 17 and my family and I moved to a new town. I felt a little lost and alone and desperate to make friends and fit in with the new crowd. Unfortunately, I fell into the wrong crowd. The kids I surrounded myself with lacked motivation, didn’t value education and never thought about college, and were very negative about everything. I started to change to fit in and became the person they wanted me to be. I was not following my mom’s rules, I was coming home late, my grades dropped, and school was no longer my priority. I started smoking and lacked any focus. My goals were forgotten, and I became more negative about everything and everyone.

Only 2 weeks shy of heading to college, I hit bottom. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and found myself in the middle of a situation that I could not understand and did not want to participate in. People were hurt and the shock of what happened, what I participated in, hit me hard. I had immediately remorse and was devastated by the person I had become – it was not the real me.

I was sent to secure detention and for the first several months, I didn’t want to eat, I couldn’t sleep, and I was unmotivated to do anything. The weight of my actions was a lot to bare and I spent much time processing what had happened and how my life took such a turn for the worse. I told my dad this would never happen to me and here I was sitting in a room by myself in a secure detention facility – I let him down and for that, I felt at my lowest.

I already had my high school diploma and thought college was no longer in my future until I started talking with some of my staff and really listening to their advice and guidance. Instead of focusing on what I did wrong, I started reflecting on the decisions I made and how I could do things differently.

My staff encouraged me and made me feel like there was hope. I had a chance and a choice to still be who I wanted to be.

My teachers told me about the Mott Family Scholarship and strongly encouraged me to apply. I didn’t think I had a chance but applied anyway. In August 2021, I found out that I would be the first youth from secure detention to become a Mott Family Scholarship recipient! I was in shock and my parents cried. I finally had something to be proud of and it made me feel good to see them proud of me. I was told that everyone at Together for Youth believes in me and can see my potential – this made me start to believe in myself again.

Now, I’m working on my Entrepreneurial and Small Business Certification. I want to start my own business and be self-made. I’m exploring college again for the first time in a long time and have the staff at Together for Youth to thank for it – Thank you for awakening me and helping me open my eyes by putting me under pressure to face myself and realize I have so much more ahead of me. You helped me regain my self-worth and my drive to get back to the person I want to be.

Someday, I want to come back and speak to other youth to let them know I walked in their shoes and there is another path – a better path. Grow from your mistakes and choose to make better choices. Sometimes, just having one person who cares is all you need.