Jalisia Estes

Finding the Keys to Success

Jalisa Estes drove by the adult education classroom at Northeast Mississippi Community College (NMCC) for 13 years before she made the decision to continue her education by working on her high-school-equivalency diploma.

There were reasons she had put it off for so long: kids, work, life. But underneath it all was a prevailing negative belief:

“I just didn’t see myself as smart,” she says.

Estes withdrew from high school at the age of seventeen due to unforeseen circumstances and to avoid being held back another year. She also had low self-esteem and grappled with a lack of motivation.

“I just wasn’t motivated,” she says. “My best courses were English and art. Anything outside of that, I was just bored with it.”

But once Estes decided she wanted to obtain her diploma, she did so quickly.

“My teachers kept me motivated. They inspired me to go beyond what I thought I was capable of.”

After graduating, Estes spoke with College and Career Navigator, Charlie Smart, for guidance on her next steps.

“She liked technology,” says Smart. “She was working as an online administrator for three different companies, building websites and managing their social media accounts. These were jobs she just went for, and she got them—without a high-school diploma. She taught herself to code, for goodness sake! The answer was obvious.”

Smart told her about the two-year degree in Information Systems Technology at Northeast, which offers a pathway in iOS app development.

“I had taught myself a lot for website development,” Estes says. “App development seemed like the next step.”

Cutting-edge work such as app development and virtual reality is not without its difficulties—such as learning different coding languages. How did she deal with such challenges?

“Practice,” Estes says, “If you don’t practice it, you’re never going to learn it. I’m just constantly trying to put more into my brain.”

Estes feels as if she has found the perfect path for herself.

“Everything in that program is a puzzle, and I love puzzles!” she says.

And as an added bonus, her newfound career path and skill set have led her to more profits and financial freedoms.

“I have never been on a vacation. My husband has never been on a vacation,” Estes says. “We try to do things for our children that we weren’t able to do as kids, but it’s hard. That’s going to change. The pay for the work I’m going to be doing is almost four times our current household income. I’m going to be able to enjoy my time with my family and do things with my children that I never got to do growing up.”

Estes says her success has four elements.

“Family, love, respect, knowledge–those are the keys to success,” she says.

Estes is living proof that with the right motivations, support, and mindset, students can accomplish more than they ever thought possible. And make life better—for themselves and their families.

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