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Without school choice, I wouldn’t be where I am now. So I’m very invested in it.

I started off in Omaha Public Schools. They’re great schools but weren’t the right fit for me. My mom worked multiple jobs while going to college so that I could go to a private school. I was eventually able to attend Holy Name Catholic School. From there, I was able to go to Duchesne Academy. I would not have been able to do that without the hard work my mom put in and the generosity of private donors. But sometimes it’s not possible for parents to work that many jobs or for students to be lucky enough to receive a limited scholarship. Kids need a backup option where they can get funds to be able to have a chance to better their education and go to the school that’s right for them.

I went to the school choice rally in Lincoln in 2017. I testified before the legislature about why school choice is important. I told my story to try to motivate them and show them that it actually is affecting kids and we deserve a better education. I was lucky to receive scholarships from the Children’s Scholarship Fund and private donors. However, others in my community were not as lucky, and because of that, they were limited by their zip code. This lucky opportunity is the reason I was sitting before the legislature, and some of my peers in my community were sitting before a criminal court judge; this has to change.

I started at Holy Name in third grade, and I loved it. We had small class sizes, and every teacher knew who you were. Even as you advanced, you could go back and talk to your past teachers, and they were dedicated and invested in you. I love Duchesne because of the sense of community there. Like Holy Name, the teachers are really invested in you. You can talk to anybody at any time. They make sure you have whatever you need. They don’t let you fall behind. If you’re struggling, they will sit down with you and make sure you understand. And all the other students are very nice, no matter their economic situation or where they come from. Everyone is treated the same and given the same opportunities.

Thanks to Duchesne, I was effectively prepared for college. I now attend on of the top 10 universities in the United States, the University of Chicago. I am currently majoring in sociology and minoring in social inequality, social problems, and change.    I plan to attend law school and become a lawyer. I want to be a lawyer because I want to be able to help people. I want to do pro-bono as well as criminal justice to help reform our system.

Read more about Jayleesha and why she supports expanding educational opportunity for all children here: Catholic Voice: Students testify to benefits of scholarship tax credits


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