Participant Profile: Jamiessa
Jamiessa Boucher is in her fourth year as a program participant with CAS-Carrera at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women. In 2008, when she started the program in the sixth grade, she was finding her way at a new school with a new slate of teachers and adjusting to an all-girls setting. She was teamed with Tyasia Harvey, a Tutor with the CAS-Carrera Education Team, who helped Jamiessa adjust to the rigors of middle school classes.
A year before she began CAS-Carrera, Jamiessa was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, a condition that can lead to serious heart and bone problems. Accordingly, in 2010 she underwent surgery and was unable to attend school for an extended period of time. By the second semester of eighth grade, her GPA had plummeted to 69 as she tried to catch up with schoolwork and cope with the side effects of medications that left her exhausted and unable to focus.
The CAS-Carrera program model is built around consistent and long-term dosage of components, including Education. Because Ms. Harvey has worked with Jamiessa since her entry into the program, she recognized her student’s challenges and promptly addressed them with the CAS-Carrera team to provide a comprehensive response. Too many times, we have learned that grades can foretell larger issues affecting a young person. Jamiessa shared that she was not only coping with a major medical condition, but with the absence of her father whose Army unit had been deployed to Iraq just before her surgery. She and her little sister were also facing another challenge: their mother was to be deployed by the Navy as part of the war effort, too.
In response, Ms. Harvey invited Jamiessa to afterschool academic support and to “Power Lunch” tutoring sessions, “I was struck by Jamiessa’s drive and resilience. She doesn’t use the obstacles that she has been faced with as an excuse.” After sticking with this increased academic support program for several months with her UA teachers and CAS-Carrera’s Education team, Jamiessa worked with singular focus to bring her grades up. By the end of eighth grade, her GPA average had improved dramatically to 90, qualifying her for the Honor Roll.
Today, Jamiessa is feeling better physically, and is on track to take honors-level classes, graduate high school on time, and pursue post-secondary studies. Her father has returned from overseas while her mother is on active duty with the Navy. Through CAS-Carrera’s Self-Expression component, she enjoys photography and her work is currently on display on the walls of UA. And while she no longer needs intensive academic supports, she continues to attend afterschool sessions with Ms. Harvey to help younger students with their schoolwork. Her hard-earned success is a powerful motivator for the sixth, seventh and eighth grade girls who see that one does not master skills overnight, but rather through perseverance, school and program support, and small adjustments over time.
At CAS-Carrera, we believe there are many ways to articulate the qualities in young people that best predict long-term success. “Grit” applies to a person with an unswerving dedication to a single mission, despite the obstacles or duration. Math may not be Jamiessa’s favorite subject today but that has not deterred her from considering a career in engineering. Based on her “gritty” track record, one would be foolish to doubt her determination.