Tajé JacksonTajé Jackson is taking a road less traveled on her journey to becoming a pediatrician. She said it was the immediate connection she felt with the City Year mission to build relationships with students that resonated with her professional goals to be able to better understand her future young patients, meeting them wherever they're at in their lives to bridge the gap between doctor and patient.

She also wishes she would have had a mentor during her education to help guide and push her to reach her goals like she does now for her high school students at Nathan Hale High School.

"There are so many students that are just not where they need to be, academically or emotionally," says Tajé. "But, they also don't often have a consistent, positive influence in their lives at this critical time when they are making these important life choices that can set themselves up for success or failure."

Tajé serves as her school team's math coordinator and focuses on setting goals with her students and then holding them accountable inside and outside the classroom. She says this approach can sometimes lead to students initially pushing back and even fight the process. However, Tajé has learned to meet their resistance with patience and empathy because she sees that many students struggle with trust issues due to unstable relationships in school and at home.

This was the situation with a student who initially argued with her at every opportunity. But, with persistence and a few "very real" conversations, Tajé was able to gain his trust and they set a goal for him to graduate with honors. She now checks in with him consistently and lets him know when his choices and schoolwork don't support their goal. Tajé's goal-setting approach has also helped one of her math students to raise his grade from an F to a high B.

With the school year ending, said she has grown from the challenges she experienced during her first year of service, but the joy she has had in seeing the progress and impact her team made for their students has given her the desire to keep growing. So, Tajé has decided to serve a second year with City Year Tulsa as a Team Leader next year.

Are you, or do you know, a 17-25 year old who is ready to serve Tulsa’s youth while developing their own personal, professional and leadership skills? If so, encourage them to learn about service with City Year Tulsa. Together we can #makebetterhappen in Tulsa.

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