In 2010, Jacqueline Navedo, or “Jackie” as she goes by to her fellow classmates and colleagues at Ivy Tech Indianapolis, never would have thought she would be where she is today. The mother of three had just lost everything in a house fire and in the middle of it all, Jackie was trying to find the best care for her youngest son, a newborn at the time, with special needs.
The family was living in New York, which Jackie explained had several children with special needs. There were not enough people to provide adequate services, making it difficult for her son’s developmental needs to be met.
He was born with autism and Hypotonia, which is decreased muscle tone. Jackie knew the older he got, he would need one-on-one care, and researched the best states to move to for help.
Jackie looked at many options, including Ohio. However, her sister lived in Fishers, Indiana—a place she had never been before. She read good things about the area and decided to take a vacation there. After arriving, Jackie immediately fell in love with the state and knew this was where she needed to move her family.
“I love New York, but here, the people have more open doors to conquer what they want to really be successful in life,” said Jackie.
It took Jackie eight months to find an apartment and work out the arrangements for her youngest son. She also had another obstacle to overcome when moving to Indiana—she did not know how to drive. In New York, there was no need to drive as she walked everywhere or used public transportation. Yet she made it all work during her move to a new state. Even better, she would have excellent care for her son.
Her next step after moving to Indiana in 2013 was to go back to school. Jackie registered at her local Ivy Tech but wasn’t able to start in spring 2014 after she could work out transportation. During this time, her youngest son also began to experience seizures, which took a toll on her studies.
“What do you know about winning if you don’t fail?” she said as she thought back.
Instead of letting it get her down, she kept pursuing her goals. Jackie took advantage of Ivy Tech’s TRIO Student Support Services, which is a federally funded academic and personal development program for students from low-income families, first-generation college students and students with disabilities. She also learned how to drive and got her license.
As Jackie was meeting new people and utilizing services, one of the people she met was Carla Perinne Perry, who encouraged her to join the Student Government Association (SGA).
“I said ‘why not!’ and I loved it!” Jackie said. “I got involved as a senator in 2014 and became VP in 2015.”
Also in 2015, Jackie was inducted into the National Society Leadership and Success and even won an award for her work. She also joined the Student Organization of Latinos (SOL) and later became president.
Jackie had taken classes in a few of the Ivy Tech locations in central Indiana, including the location near her home in Noblesville. Once becoming vice president of SGA, she set her sights on her next big goal: to bring SGA and more student activities to Ivy Tech’s Noblesville campus.
During this time, she hit a few other bumps in the road. In 2016, when all was on the up-and-up, Jackie was in a car accident. She was taking three classes at the time and was on her way to her chemistry class. Unfortunately, Jackie had to drop her classes and pick things up again a year later. Also that year, she went through a divorce.
Each obstacle only motivated Jackie to work harder. She stayed busy and continued to be involved at Ivy Tech.
When she began taking classes again, Jackie was still working hard as vice president of SGA. She and her senators were determined to reach their goal to bring SGA and a Campus Activities Board (CAB) to Noblesville. It took a lot of work and without even having a budget, they made it happen! Jackie and her team were elated.
“And now the students are getting involved,” Jackie explained. “I want the students to know what SGA is and why we’re here, what we stand for. Now we help the students on the campus and provide them information.”
Jackie is proud that students following in her footsteps will be better connected to their community.
While working with SGA, Jackie and her classmates went to the Indiana Statehouse twice. She met Vice President Mike Pence when he was governor of Indiana, and also met Eric Holcomb, the state’s current governor.
During her last year at Ivy Tech, Jackie became a federal work-study for Student Life, assisting the office with administrative work. Her manager and director of Student Life and Development at Ivy Tech Indianapolis, Anna Droste-Glowinski, also assigned her to become a part of the budget committee and to get involved with other groups and activities, including Pass the Torch for Women.
“Jackie is such an amazing leader for our campus! She stepped up and was our first Vice President of SGA on the Noblesville campus,” Anna said. “She worked tirelessly to engage her fellow students and pave a new path on that campus. She is also a strong leader within Student Life and in working with the Student Organization of Latinos. We greatly appreciate all of Jackie’s energy and hard work over the years.”
Jackie also spent her last year in school at Ivy Tech participating in the student newspaper and with the Ivy Tech Foundation’s Circle of Ivy. This is a women’s philanthropy circle dedicated to creating resources and raising funds to diminish barriers to higher education for Ivy Tech students.
All of these achievements were accomplished while she was raising her three children, working a job helping students with autism and special needs and going to school—achieving the Dean’s List three times.
How did she do it?
“My three kids,” she said. “It’s hard, but I get up every day. Some days I don’t want to get up but I know they’re watching me and I want to be a good example.”
She wants to make sure the doors are wide open for her children so they can be successful.
While Jackie has achieved so much through her own perseverance, she credits all of the people around her, including her church and God, for making it happen. She values each and every person that helped her along the way.
“I don’t want titles because I don’t want people to look at me as entitled,” she explained. “I’m here to help the students get to know the staff and how they can serve each other.”
During her time as a student, Jackie took advantage of as many services as she could to help her grow, which she encourages current and future Ivy Tech students to do, too.
“They will help you. If you need to go to an interview, they will send you to Dress for Success. If you need a resume, Career Development will help you do your resume and get a profile.”
Jackie also noted how helpful Ivy Tech’s counseling services were for her when she learned about Carla’s passing in 2017, one of the people who helped to encourage her most.
She explained it was experiences and services such as these that really set Ivy Tech apart. In New York, she attended two large four-year universities and noted how drastically different her experience at Ivy Tech was—for the better.
In addition to the faculty and students, Jackie fondly looks on the relationships she built with administrators at the College, including Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Darrell Cain and Dan Clark, vice chancellor of Ivy Tech Noblesville. Everyone made a difference. She explained each person, from the security guards to janitors, to advisors, all come together to help build a better society—one she’s grateful to be a part of.
“It has been rough, but everything happens for a reason,” Jackie said. “I take the positive way—because of this accident, it pushed me a year. But I got to make SGA happen in Noblesville. I am really proud of that and really proud of my senators.”
When she earned her leadership award, she looked at her fellow classmates and explained, “This is your award. I was nominated because of you. You are my right and left arm.”
Jackie walked across the stage at commencement on Friday, May 4 for her Associate of Science degree in Liberal Arts. She has been accepted into Western Governors University, where she will attend in the fall of 2018.
Her goal is to pursue an education for children with special needs and earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree to become a certified behavioral specialist. To help her gain experience, she has applied for a position in special education classrooms.