Lalita Ford said when she was a little girl she wanted to be a doctor – but she thought that’s probably what every child has said at one time or another. By the time she entered high school, she thought maybe she would be a criminal defense attorney. “I got to JAG and I researched that and I was like, ‘eww, I don’t like that,'” she said with a laugh.
She was really shy when she first started the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program, but Lalita joined because she thought she could use the help planning for her life after high school. She took an assessment which pointed her in the direction of a career in therapeutic services.
“All the assessments and assignments that we did helped me to figure out what I want… so I am going to do it.” The shy girl that she once was is no more. Lalita exuded confidence as she talked about her life now and her future. Lalita graduated from South Side High School in Fort Wayne in 2016. She is currently studying at Manchester University where she expects to graduate in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in athletic training – something she seems truly excited about. She is also in the National Guard and is training to be a medic, which she loves. She credits JAG with helping her find a career she is passionate about.
Brightpoint JAG specialist Michele Lewis also helped Lalita figure out how to fund her education. Most of her tuition is being paid through scholarships and incentives that the university offers plus the 21st Century Scholars program.
Lalita said she appreciates continuing her connection with JAG even now that she is in college. “If I ever need help, I can talk to Ms. Lewis… even through I’ve graduated, she’s still helping me to be successful.” As Lalita reflected more on her high school years and where she sees herself in the future, she concluded that programs like JAG are important because everyone deserves the chance to be successful.
“Everybody doesn’t have the people or the support systems or the tools to figure out what they want to do in their life and actually achieve it. These programs help to open your eyes – to see what’s in you – the success that you can achieve, but you just need a little push to do so.”