May Magazines 2018 89134 - Page 67

Often students and their families continue to contact their spe- cialists long after they’ve completed the one-year follow-up program because of the system of support and a desire to give back to a program that helped change their lives. For that reason, it’s not unusual to see Mijarez pop into a JAG classroom or event, even though he graduated from Mojave High School last year. His outgoing personality, easy smile, and willingness to share his story to help others makes him a favorite among program participants. “I was never the best student, I struggled with Math and English, and it didn’t help that I hung with the wrong crowd,” said Mijarez. “Experimenting with marijuana and ditching classes because I cared too much about what they thought of me, trying to be cool, even though they were pushing me to get into trouble.” Once in JAG, Mijarez found his calling. He had a talent for public speaking and felt at home in the spotlight. He used to follow the misdeeds of his old crew, but Mijarez discovered that he is a natural born leader. “I never knew that I was good at public speaking, or that I would become a co-director for my JAG program three weeks after I joined. I got to set up fundraising drives and community service for my classmates…it was like we were the adults making adult decisions,” said Mijarez. “I’ve been exposed to all these really cool experiences: I met Governor [Brian] Sandoval in Carson City; I gave a speech at an event at [North Las Vegas] City Hall and was asked to give my suggestions on how to help high schools. I was interviewed by Telemundo, which was awesome because I like being in front of the camera. Without JAG I would have never had the chance to experience any of this.” In addition to academic success, JAG teaches its students “life skills.” While in the program, Mijarez took career assessment tests, and learned how to balance a budget and what it takes to achieve home ownership. His specialist Michelle Tewes helped him land a job after high school and counseled him on applying to college – he is enrolled at College of Southern Nevada where he is working on a career in the loan industry, while keeping his mind open to a career in front of a camera, such as communications. “I want to continue working with JAG and speak to teens about my story, how I turned my life around, and what I’m doing to reach my goals,” said Mijarez. “It was not too long ago that I was one of them, but look at me now.” To learn more about JAG, visit jagnv.org. ◆