Laws of Life
Griffin Rotary Inspired by Laws of Life Essays

The Georgia Rotary Clubs Laws of Life Essay Contest changes lives one essay at a time. The lives touched by the contest include the students writing the essay, the teachers and volunteer judges reading the essay, the Rotarians hearing the essay, and the parents and members of the community participating in a Rotary Club recognition event. While that is a vast reach all across the State of Georgia, sometimes that ripple effect extends even further.

The Rotary Club of Griffin has sponsored the Laws of Life essay contest for several years in partnership with Griffin High School. In 2012, the club hosted a recognition event for students and parents of the contest winners from Griffin High. The club was touched by the story of 16-year old senior Jackie who shared about being secretly homeless during much of her senior year of high school. Jackie lived in a truck with her mother and had no address to use on her college applications other than the address of her school. In spite of the horrible situation in which she found herself, Jackie managed to maintain her high grade point average and was the STAR Student for Griffin High School that year.

After sharing her essay in 2012 with the Rotary Club of Griffin, Jackie received many offers of assistance. A Griffin Rotarian gave her a job. Others gave what Jackie describes as “financial assistance from generous strangers” which allowed her to buy a car and attend Mercer University. The ripple effect did not stop there, though. A Griffin Rotarian made a $10,000 donation to Promise Place, the domestic violence shelter that assisted Jackie and her family when her secret was discovered by one of her teachers. Other Griffin Rotarians and the Rotary Club of Griffin also made donations to Promise Place.

Jackie has touched the hearts of so many Griffin Rotarians, and even Rotarians across the state as Jackie shared her story at a Laws of Life Teacher and Rotarian luncheon. She visited the Rotary Club of Griffin in February to update the club on her life. Jackie has continued to live what she describes as a “Hallmark movie” life, facing trials that no young person should have to face, to include the murder of her mother in 2015 and having her back broken in 2016 in an auto accident when she was hit by a texting driver. In spite of everything that has happened, Jackie is a now a graduate of Mercer University with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering, a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, and minors in biology, chemistry and military science. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Science, Information Technology Health Infomatics at Middle Georgia State University. This February, Jackie interviewed with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation for a teaching fellowship that would pay for the rest of her graduate school which will include a second Master’s Degree – a Masters of Arts in Teaching STEM. She wants to obtain her PhD in either pharmacology or math. Most importantly, Jackie is a happy person who sees challenges as something to overcome and not something to drag her down.

Jackie’s recent visit to the Rotary Club of Griffin led to a front page article in the local newspaper which highlighted not only Jackie’s achievement, but also the Rotary Club of Griffin, the Laws of Life Essay Contest and the all Rotarian Board of the Georgia Rotary Districts Character Education Program. Jackie will soon be speaking to the Griffin Kiwanis Club about how Rotary changed her life.The Georgia Rotary Clubs Laws of Life Essay Contest truly does change lives – one essay at a time. To see the video of Jackie’s presentation and to learn more about Laws of Life, visit the Georgia Laws of Life Facebook page or griffinrotary.org.

Posted by Stephanie Windham
March 6, 2018


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