Jackson Grown program pairs students with mentors

JACKSON, Tenn. — One Jacksonian wants local high school students to grow professionally during their last year with the help of his new program.

“I was blown away. I was very thrilled and excited that I was one to be selected to be a part of the program. I’m very passionate about Jackson, Tennessee, especially being homegrown myself,” said Carita Cole, a Jackson High School graduate.

The Jackson Grown Leader Fellowship program is starting this fall. It will allow senior high school students to grow with the help of a mentor based on their career path.

“It’s kind of an honor to be chosen as a first person. They told me a mentor like a Major League Baseball player was going to be speaking, and I’m really excited for that because that’s what I really want to go into for, a career path in sports management and business,” said Amiriah Springs, a senior at Madison Academic High School.

Ten local students are selected by their school principals and counselors based on different qualities.

“Potential, positivity, creativity, a commitment to the community, a willingness to engage and study new things,” said Jon Mark Walls, co-founder of Jackson Grown.

Walls says having a program like this means a lot to him.

“Many, many people invested in my life and helped me kind of take those next steps. This was an idea that we kind of floated through the strangeness of COVID and looked at launching something here back in Jackson,” Walls said.

The students will meet with their mentors every other month virtually or in person. For some mentors, to be a part of this program is an honor.

“It means a lot to be thought of to want to shed some knowledge, but beyond that, to encourage, to really encourage and let these students know that if somebody like me could do it, truly anyone can do it and sometimes all you need to do is just hear that,” said Lauren Pritchard-Cobb, a mentor with Jackson Grown.

All of the mentors attended high school in different parts of Jackson.

The students will meet with their mentors for the first time next month. Some say they are eager to find out who their mentor will be.

You can learn more about the program here.

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