Name: Jayla Shepherd
From: Knox, Indiana
Perseverance Through Chaos
Humans dedicate time and effort to their passions. We do this because when doing so our lives feel complete; filling them with hope and happiness. I have always struggled to find mine. It wasn’t until I had to witness my older brother’s battle with addiction that I realized the thing I was most passionate about was helping others.
Throughout high school, I thought I would commit my time to something musical. This was because of my five-year experience in my high school’s marching band and indoor percussion program. I learned piano in sixth grade and I’ve been playing for eight years. This provided me with many opportunities like joining my high school jazz band. I was able to get solos every year, teach new members piano, and advance my own skill. Being in these programs also gave me the chance to experience going to state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium for marching band, along with state every year for winter percussion. I also played the clarinet for six years in my high school’s concert band. Despite all of my experience and love in music I still didn’t feel completely confident in committing all of my time to those talents as a career. I began thinking about a career in writing after composing many fictional stories and winning the senior poetry category of the HNAC competition. I love writing and while English is one of my strongest subjects I couldn’t see myself completely absorbed into it as a profession.
Addiction had been a repetitive subject for my family, both of my uncles had been drug addicts my entire life, one losing their life to it. My cousin followed in their footsteps and then unfortunately my brother did as well. During my sophomore year of high school, my mom told me that my brother had been addicted to heroin for the past five years. This addiction lasted into my junior year and as a result, those two years were very stressful for me academically and emotionally. Doing homework at home was challenging because of the emotional chaos going on around me. Seeing my brother in pain during withdrawals and coming to the realization that he was becoming a stranger caused me to lose motivation in completing anything. My mom had to put in more work hours to pay for rehab centers and medications to help my brother overcome his struggles. The tension of his addiction caused many fights between my parents and the nights started to feel longer than the days.
The pain from this experience discouraged me at first, but the desire to help my brother through his addiction sparked my interest in what else I could do, not only for him but for people like him. Nursing was something that had always fascinated me so after learning more about it and talking to people who practiced the occupation, I felt like this career path was the best fit for what I was looking for. I watched my brother get through his addiction and became inspired to continue to work towards this new goal.
I began with getting the best grades I could to attend a good university and get my BSN. I managed to keep mostly A’s and B’s to stay on the honor roll every year of high school. I made small goals for myself and completed every one like getting accepted into the National Honors Society and joining the tennis team. I completed many hours of volunteer work for my community, nursing homes, and my school. On some weekends I would volunteer eight-hour shifts at White Oak Nursing home. I loved passing out water, helping the residents with activities like exercise and painting, and reading them their food menus. I became CPR certified and started a Certified Nursing Assistant class that I, unfortunately, could not finish due to Covid-19.
Although my experience throughout high school were full of stress and uncertainty I am proud of my accomplishments, however, the last step to completely meet my goal is being able to financially afford college. My brother still goes back and forth between sobriety and relapse so receiving a scholarship could aid me during college and give me the chance to focus as much time and energy as I could on getting closer to my passion. I aspire to work hard to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in nursing and hopefully start working in mental facilities to help drug addicts get where they need to be in order to feel their best. Not only do I want to help people who have dealt with the same battle as my brother, but I want to help any person with their fights both emotionally and physically.