After nine years in the U.S. Navy, special recognition from President Barack Obama, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland, Information System Technician First Class Evan Jackson has come a long way since his days in Y.O.U.’s Prime Time program. Now, armed with real-world knowledge and experience, Evan is giving back to the organization he credits as an integral part of his success.
Evan took time during his leave month to speak to 50 students at Maple Heights Educational and Career Advancement Center (ECAC) High School about the program and Career Coach he says were pivotal in his success. “Without Y.O.U., and a career coach, and the knowledge provided in the curriculum, it would have been very difficult for me to succeed,” Evan said. “Mrs. Patton was a key factor in helping me get through troubling times in high school. The level of impact she had on my life, not only professionally but also personally, was instrumental in my success, and I am truly grateful to have had her as my mentor.”
Evan said the Prime Time program helped him learn about professionalism, punctuality, making a first impression, financial responsibility, and working with men and women from different backgrounds. “Prime Time helped me open up to different cultures. In the United States Armed Forces, you serve with all races, nationalities, religious backgrounds, and sexual preferences. Prime Time prepared me for that with the Youth Career Olympics, college tours, and community service projects.”
Evan’s Navy career has spanned countries and missions including three humanitarian missions in Haiti, Africa, and South America and a 15-month tour in the Middle East supporting the Navy Special Warfare Unit Three (SEAL Team 3).
“Life is not only about succeeding; you need to fail. Life’s greatest lessons are taught through failure,” Evan said. “Growing up, I had the perception that failing was bad. That isn’t true. Quitting, or never starting, that’s bad. Failing is part of growing, and failing goes hand in hand with succeeding.”
Before he finished his time with ECAC students, Evan made sure to emphasize the importance of investing in themselves and getting all they could out of the Y.O.U. programs and curriculum.
“Appreciate the program and, most of all, the teachers,” Evan elaborated. “Mrs. Patton would spend countless hours with me, even though she had her own family to attend to. She dedicated her time to ensure that I had the mentorship, guidance, and knowledge I needed to succeed. That kind of devotion is priceless, so make sure you appreciate that level of commitment.”