Jada Clark isn’t afraid to take matters into her own hands. The 2022 Council Scholarship recipient, who was born with significant vision impairment, made independence a goal once she got to middle school.
“My vision has affected me throughout my life, both negatively and positively,” Jada says. As high school approached, she believed she was leaning too heavily on help from teachers and special services. “I started taking matters into my own hands,” she says. “No extra help from teachers or from my para (support teacher). I was on my own.”
Now, finishing her freshman year at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Jada’s take-charge attitude is serving her well. In fact, she needed to call upon it after a rougher-than-expected first semester. She’s candid when asked about it.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” Jada says. “Academics were nothing like what I was expecting. Much harder. Social stuff was hard because I live off campus at my parents’ house.” Jada took a serious look at things when the fall semester ended. “I started better organizing my schoolwork,” she says. She kept to a daily schedule. And she decided to lighten her academic load for the spring semester.
Jada also decided that off-campus part-time work was something she was going to have to give up. It was hard to leave her job as a resident companion at a residential home, since she enjoyed the people she worked with so much. “I was the activities assistant, and the people were really nice. I got to know them, and they got to know me,” she says.
Even now, more changes are afoot. A lifelong singer and choir member, Jada is considering changing her major from music to a career that will have “something to do with books.” A voracious reader, her favorite books to read for fun are escapist literature, mostly romance mystery novels.
In addition to reading, Jada enjoys running, sometimes as much as three miles at a time. She also likes long walks. But when it comes to school, Jada is determined to use the lessons of her first semester going forward. “I try to keep on time. Talk to teachers, follow up classes,” she says.
Jada says the most challenging thing for her right now is the lack of transportation options for someone in her position living off campus. But she says she’s not letting that interfere with her dedication to her independence. “I’ll ask for help when I need it or when I’m struggling.” She pauses, then speaks again. “My independence continues to grow.”