Former Student Highlight: Jordan Polk
When Jordan Polk first started her educational career at Texas A&M, she had a desire to teach in special education. During her senior year, her focus changed. She still had a passion for children with special needs, but she also learned about children with other needs.
“I was an intern my senior year for an attorney who practiced juvenile justice cases. The majority of his clients were children from low-income families,” said Polk. “My eyes were opened to a different need within our systems.”
That is when Polk realized a typical classroom might not be the most beneficial place for her or her future students. She opted out of getting her certification and chose the child professional services concentration. After graduation in 2015 with a Bachelor’s in University Studies, she applied to several jobs that worked with children, including Advise Texas. After an interview, she knew Advise Texas was the answer for her.
Advise Texas seeks to increase the number of low-income, first-generation and underrepresented Texas students entering and completing post-secondary education. It places recent college graduates on high school campuses as near-peer college advisers.
Polk is now at Barbara Jordan High School in Houston working with students who need that extra support and motivation. Her hope is to help students to believe in themselves and know that someone else also believes in them. “If I can be the force that pushes at least one student to succeed past their greatest expectations, then I have been successful at my job.”
For Ralston Green, Polk has helped save his future. He knew what he wanted to do but was not sure how to get there and did not have anyone to offer advice or encouragement. He says Polk recommended a college that would fit his needs and pushed him to apply for scholarships. “She goes above and beyond and talks about my life and how I’m doing,” said Green. “She is very encouraging and has so much faith in me. She doesn’t settle for less and will do whatever it takes to keep me running until I pass my initial goal.”
The same is true for many other students that Polk has helped guide during her time at Barbara Jordan High School.
“Ms. Polk has really changed my outlook on my current lifestyle and future. She sits down and talks to me, not lecturing or preaching, but actually talking to me on a level where I could grasp the process of life after high school,” said Ka’Leb Williams.
“She made me see that all new people have a background and there is a reason we come from where we do,” explained Kevin Butler. “Her belief that everyone has the power to be someone in life was touching. I really want to be someone of importance to people around the world and her constant encouragement helps. Her outgoing spirit shows how loving she is and truly makes me believe in myself.”
“She’s reminded me that there is a person out there willing to help and listen. A thousand thank yous is not enough to show how grateful I am for her helping me realize my full potential,” said Valerie Payan.
Polk will finish her time with Advise Texas next year. Her long-term goal is to work with a facility to change the life trajectory of students who have gone through the juvenile system for minor offenses. “I had to do a research paper while I was an intern and found a statistic that 80% of students over the age of 14 that have been through the juvenile system are on a 3rd grade reading level. This absolutely broke my heart and I knew something needed to be changed.”
You can learn more about Advise Texas at: tx.ag/advisetx
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