Meagan Staton has been a JMG Specialist for five years, impacting young people in the Upper Peninsula. As she looks back on 2021, she feels her greatest accomplishment was continuing the JMG program at Marquette Alger Technical Middle College through Youth Solutions affiliate partnership with Marquette-Alger RESA. When we asked what her goal is for 2022, she responded “My goal for 2022 is that all of my students are happy, helpful, healthy humans! I also am super excited to do all that I can to connect my Michigan Early Middle College folks with my JMG family!”
We asked Meagan several questions so you can get to know her better:
Why did you become a specialist?
I was born to be a JMG specialist! Actually, when JMG began in the Upper Peninsula, I had just moved downstate so my husband could pursue his career aspirations, but that did not stop the UP JMG foremothers from campaigning for me to ditch my husband, and move back to lead one of the new programs... I didn't, but when we did eventually move back, as soon as a JMG position became available I did everything I could to make sure it was mine!
From the time I was very little I knew in my heart of hearts that I was made to serve others. Being a first-generation college student myself, I didn't have too many role models or examples of how to go to college. Ultimately I went to school for education, but even throughout my college training, I didn't care what my subject area was, for me the subject area was just a vessel for me to help students achieve everything in life they wanted. JMG does just that! JMG is everything workforce development and education should be. Every young person in Michigan should have the opportunity and resources to achieve a future beyond imagination.
What inspires you about your job?
My students never cease to blow me away. Their wisdom and power of heart are beyond measure! When I begin to lose faith in the world, it's always my students that snap me out of it and restore my faith in humanity.
Recall a favorite memory as a specialist.
Oh there, is SO MUCH good stuff!! Beyond seeing students experience the fabulous statewide events, my favorite memory came from a career day for middle school students that was planned, organized, and led by my JMG students. It was exciting to watch these kids, who were for the first time, put into a position of leadership and responsibility to perform major tasks and run the event. During the event, a local TV station came to cover the career day, and immediately, Natasha Rzanca (who was my student at the time), greeted them and began to give them a tour. When the news story came out, Natasha was so professional in her presentation and so thorough in her knowledge that she was quoted as "the teacher" in charge of the event. She was in 11th grade at the time.
What is one of the greatest challenges you face in your job?
I need an unlimited budget and a whole team to do all the awesome stuff I dream up...
What is one of the greatest joys/highlights of your job?
It’s amazing when those little things I say and model (over and over again) are taken to heart by my students. I always tell my students that I want to be a partner in their success, not someone in charge of them or above them and that as their partner, I'll be whatever it is they need; sometimes that's a cheerleader, a listener, an accountability buddy, and sometimes a kick-in-the-pants-er. This past semester, I had a student that was on their way to a very important college final exam and they called, "Meagan, I need a pep talk!" We were on the phone just for a few minutes just so I could be their hype person.
Why do you think JMG is so important for youth?
JMG is how you build resilient youth that persist in education and become the leaders of tomorrow. (I could write an entire dissertation on this...)
Share a couple of random facts to get to know you better.
I have an amazing hubby that shares me with my students. He comes in annually as a guest speaker on financial empowerment and often serves as our grill master for outdoor celebrations. My mom is also an active part of our family and has helped with set up, clean up cooking, and activity prep for student events. We have a dog, Bugs, and two cats, Ozzy and Ash. I love food, eating and cooking it... but not doing dishes! I recently rediscovered my love for reading and audiobooks, as well as crocheting (but that's mostly to keep my phone out of my hands). I was a coast guard kid and while I was born in Leavenworth, KS (Dad was stationed on a river tender for those of you wondering what a Coastie does in KS), I spent my entire childhood living on every side of the state of Michigan.