Winner’s Circle posts highlight exceptional student leaders across the nation who take advantage of campus resources, think proactively about their futures, and make an impact on their campus and larger communities.
This interview features Jayla Moody, a journalism, international global studies, and French student at Mercer University in Macon, GA.
Jacques Lesure: So, I’ve known you for a while but it’s really amazing to see how well your year is going. How are you feeling right now?
Jayla Moody: I’m feeling very blessed. I’m definitely just happy to have so many opportunities presented to me. I always tell myself, if a door is open and it looks like something you want to be a part of, or something that could benefit you now or in the future; go ahead and take a step in. My internship advisor once told me to always seek opportunities that will force you to step outside your comfort zone. And ever since, I’ve done it in every way that I possibly can, I’ve been vulnerable. A lot of it has been successful, some failures, but it’s only taught me more about myself.
Jacques: In our book, A How-To Guide To Maximizing Your College’s Resources , we talk a lot about imagining circumstances and envisioning end goals, what does that look like for you? How are you always plotting your next steps?
Jayla: Phew, that’s a little hard. With imagining my next steps, I definitely try to focus on what I’m doing to get there. It requires a lot of planning and I really try to stay organized. I’m sure to follow up with all of the people who could help me. I maximize all the resources that I can to get to my end goals. I definitely make sure that I’m following up with my word.
A lot of the times we tell ourselves “this is what I want” but we’re not willing to do what’s necessary to get there. So I have to always keep myself reminded of my “why”. And once I give myself that reminder, I just know that I have to do what’s necessary. My end goal changes a lot, and sometimes that’s good.
Jacques: That makes me think of those moments when we get caught in “thinking” instead of “doing”. Outcomes and results are a different game. Walking through that process and building that accountability for yourself is at the core of the task.
Jayla: I definitely agree, and its discipline more than anything. A lot of us don’t have it. But you have to build that for yourself. A lot of the time the process prepares you for the final product.
Jacques: Wow. It’s funny you say that, because in our “5 P’s of College Success System”, we lay it out like that. We stress that in the book, process before product. So I’m glad to see that maybe we’re on to something. What role has understanding your identity played in how you’ve been spending your time in the last few years?
Jayla: It’s definitely shown me where my time should be spent and what is I should be invested in. I’m always seeking out opportunities to help everyone in general, but most of all people that look like me. For example, I work on the college admissions team at my school. I give tours, I host special events and scholarship opportunities for the students. I always try to latch on to someone.
My college never visited my high school. So I want to give that to somebody who may not have gotten it at all if it weren’t for me. I try to pour into students and let them know that there are doors that are open for you, and if they aren’t open, you can kick them down!
Jacques: I like the sound of that! So in terms of maintaining your vision and executing, what does the learning process look like for you?
Jayla: I stress the benefit of having a support group. Those are the people in your corner who not only support you but are going to check you. A lot of the times we find ourselves in situations that are not really for us. You can lose yourself, many times. You can forget your “why”, and at the end of the day, you’ll be sitting wondering how you even got there. A support group is important for that reason alone. But you have to be able to check yourself too, that goes back to discipline. Trial and error are extremely important. The L’s aren’t just losses, they’re lessons. Learn from them.
Jacques: In the book, we talk about a concept that we call proximity planning. You said some situations are not for you. In the book, we say some peoples, places, and ideas are not for you. Or they may be great for you, for various reasons. I think people who really understand that are in a better position than most. I think it allows you to keep distance, or bring things closer. I’m led to believe that doing so is at the core of managing yourself and building habits of healthy and forward thinking.
Jayla: Yeah, I agree! I agree.
Jacques: You’ve built a lot of good things and you have a lot of amazing accomplishments. What does taking on challenges look like for you at this point?
Jayla: It’s hard, it definitely is hard. You want to win. Especially if you’ve had a glimpse of your end goal. A lot of the times accomplishments, accolades, and opportunities that everyone else may not have can give you a small idea of the big plan you had in mind. Once you step into it it’s no stopping from there. It drives me, and it’s a way for me to encourage myself, and know that “Jayla, you can do this”. You may not have done this before, but you have done “this, this and this”.
So knowing your worth and what you’re capable of makes it easier for you to step into that challenge. But once you’re in it, you have to handle it accordingly. But remember who you are.
Jacques: Often times, people think of college as a place where you have to survive versus thrive or even escape from. Would you say that you have a set of strategies and tools that you use to make sure that your college experience is instead a period of immense value, where you grow as an individual? And if that’s the case could college become a place that you wouldn’t want to escape from?
Jayla: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. I think right now I see myself as thriving as opposed to surviving. I say that mostly because of the idea of the comfort zone. When you’re comfortable, you can stay in that comfort zone or you can step out of that comfort zone. When you step out is when I feel like you can truly thrive.
But it’s also hard. Not everyone has the opportunity to be in a place where they’re comfortable and see resources in place for them. Or not everyone will see themselves around people that allow them to thrive. When you find yourself in those situations, it definitely can be hard. I think we’ve all been in those situations before.
Jayla: A lot of the times, we say this isn’t the place for me so I can’t wait to go elsewhere. But, if we reach out to people and see who is there for you, and what they can do for you. I definitely think that’s the first step, just to try to move out of that survival technique and move into space where you feel like you can thrive.
The e-book mentioned in this article, A How-To Guide to Maximizing Your College’s Resources can be purchased on Amazon, Apple iBooks, and other major retailers HERE.
Jayla Moody is 2015 Miller Grove High School Alumni, where she graduated as her class valedictorian. She is currently studying journalism, global development studies and French on the Honors International Track at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. Jayla serves as the Arts and Entertainment Editor for the campus newspaper, The Mercer Cluster. She has interned with Georgia Public Broadcasting’s NPR in Atlanta and is currently serving as a news intern at The Macon Telegraph.
Jayla pursues her interest in social justice and international development through her work with The Anti-Defamation League and her role as a No Place For Hate delegate at her university. She is also a member of the Iota Eta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She publishes a bi-weekly column, Moody Musings, in The Mercer Cluster. This past year, she won Best Column in The Georgia Press Association’s Better College Newspapers Awards. In her spare time, she can be found taking photos, reading inspirational and motivational pieces, looking for her next travel opportunity or staying up to date on local and international news.