Greatness. A word that every viewer of the 2012 Summer Olympics was bombarded with. But what does it mean to find your greatness? According to Denver Kids, Inc. alum, Jarrad Jackson, finding your greatness is fundamentally a group effort. It is the people around you that give you your greatness, empowering you to shine.
Jarrad’s journey to greatness began at Mitchell Elementary School before going on to Denver School of the Arts for Middle School. He completed his freshman, sophomore, and junior years at West High School, and transferred his senior to East High School. He played varsity football all four years, and continued to play in college as he pursued a degree in political science at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He remarks that education is “a huge contributing factor to the recognition of one’s greatness,” a large reason he is looking to re-involve himself in the Denver Kids, Inc. mission. He is employed at Hunger Free Colorado and currently working to ensure that children reliant on receiving government funded meals at school have the same guaranteed access to meals in the summertime.
Jarrad’s mother enrolled him in Denver Kids, Inc. in between the fifth and sixth grade. Raised in a single parent home, he says his mom saw Denver Kids, Inc. as a “conduit to help get her kids through high school” as well as make sure they were exposed to positive experiences. College was always a dream of Jarrad’s, but was uncharted territory for him and his family. His father never went to college, and his mother did not finish her education until he and his brothers were older. He labels Denver Kids, Inc. as the “differentiating factor” that enabled him to achieve an even higher level of greatness than he had imagined previously. He believes his success in life has been largely predicated on those who have helped him along the way. He includes his three different Denver Kids, Inc. Educational Counselors in his list of mentors: Scott Caranza, Jeff Herman, and Tom Crane, men who helped bridged the gap between where he was and where he wanted to go.
Overcoming personal adversities isn’t what defines Jarrad’s greatness; his measure of success is.
Rather than simply showing gratitude for his past mentors, Jarrad believes true greatness means “replicating the process in others,” as well as bringing all those who contributed to his success with him up the ladder of achievement. “Everyone has the capacity to be great,” Jarrad claims. Denver Kids, Inc. also believes this about our students. Each child’s quest to greatness is unique and significant, and our organization not only encourages students to dream of a bright future, but gives them the tools to make it possible. Overcoming personal adversities isn’t what defines Jarrad’s greatness; his measure of success is. He finds purpose in giving back to others what has been given to him and solidifies that greatness is dependent on perspective, not circumstance.
Congratulations Jarrad and thank you for your continued support of Denver Kids, Inc.