Stepping Out of Stereotypes


Ja’Lynn grew up in a single-parent home in an older public housing neighborhood. Driven by her high hopes and expectations, Ja’Lynn’s mother enrolled Ja’Lynn and her brother in the nearby Boys & Girls Club.


From elementary school onward, Ja’Lynn was supported by United Way – she learned to enjoy reading, studying, and excelling in school, and was encouraged to pursue her dreams.


United Way-funded programs at Goodwill and Teen Health Connection helped Ja’Lynn find internships, learn about career options, and offered guidance on good health and nutrition. She was also supported by Right Moves for Youth and won their “Do the Write Thing” essay contest.


With the help of her mentor, Rose, Ja’Lynn won the Boys & Girls Club State Youth of the Year award, then earned a full scholarship to the University of Virginia.


Now, the first in her family to attend college, Ja’Lynn continues to help others combat common stereotypes through serving overseas and in the inner city, while studying to be a nurse.


Rose smiled while recalling each of Ja’Lynn’s accomplishments, saying, “When you open your heart and mind, and you invest yourself as a volunteer such as mentoring a young person, and then that person goes on to become a mentor themselves, that really is the fabric of community – that’s what makes the community strong.”


In the spring of 2017, Ja’Lynn graduated from the University of Virginia. As the first in her family to attend and graduate college, she not only walked proudly across the stage, but also accepted the UVA School of Nursing Student Contributing Most to the University of Virginia award. Rose, watched beaming from her seat in the auditorium.


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