Name: Jen Sturgis
High School: Madison High School (Butler Tech)
Immediate Next Step: Raymond Walters College – University of Cincinnati
As a member of the marching band and a career-tech student studying veterinary science, Jen Sturgis at first look appears to be like any other high school senior from any school in Ohio. The exception is that she’s a teenager with autism. She was honored recently by the Greater Autism Society of Cincinnati with an “Autism All-Stars ... And Then Some” award – one of 20 individuals recognized during pre-game festivities at the Cincinnati Reds Autism Awareness Game at Great American Ball Park.
In a recent profile in the Middletown News Journal, Sturgis says she not only splits her time between Madison High School and Butler Tech — she jokes that she “lives a double life” — she also participates in the concert, jazz, steel and pep bands; color guard; 4-H; and FFA. She’s also near the top of her class. Jen will be focused this summer on working with her horse in preparation for the Butler County Fair and working part-time at a veterinary clinic. From an early age, Sturgis has had to overcome language barriers along with directional and social challenges.
“One of my greatest challenges has been developing the confidence to believe in myself, ask the questions in the classroom and interact with my classmates,” said Sturgis. “I have worked hard to overcome this, and I am thankful for a great support network of friends and family that have helped make a difference.”
Jen’s Future, Appreciation and Advice
Q. Where do you see yourself in five years?
A. In five years I will have graduated from Raymond Walters College and hope to work at a nearby veterinary clinic and have moved out of my parent's house.
Q. What’s the best part of your Ohio education experience so far, including one person (teacher, parent or other), who contributed to that?
A. The best part was the opportunity to go above and beyond what a traditional student would do. For example, attending Butler Tech for my last two years of high school has given me the opportunity to study in the field that I want to pursue. It also gave me a chance to make more friends and step out of my shell. I have two teachers that I feel have contributed to my education - Ms. Dana Beck and Mr. Shawn Lenney. Ms. Beck, my veterinary science teacher at Butler Tech, has taught me so much about the veterinary field and helped me get my first job at a veterinary clinic. Mr. Lenney, my band director at Madison High School, made our band a family, started taking us to competitions, and has even increased the number of members in the band. These teachers, in my opinion, work hard to make each and every one of their students a success.
Q. What’s one piece of advice you would give to a current high school freshman?
A. A piece of advice that I would give to freshman is to always try. Try hard in all of your classes and anything you do outside of school. I would also say grades are very important, should come first, but they are not everything. Get involved in as many activities as you like and enjoy your high school career. It teaches you how to be a well-rounded person with responsibility and teamwork very important skills in life.
More information about this story can be obtained from Patrick Gallaway at firstname.lastname@example.org.