Douglas student represents county at national leadership conference |

Douglas student represents county at national leadership conference

Among more than 700 students from across the country, Douglas High School junior McKinna Jackson was in shock when she was chosen to represent the school at the National Student Leadership Academy in Washington, D.C., last November.

“I wanted to cry, I was pretty excited,” Jackson said.

The National Student Leadership Academy is an annual conference through the Jobs for American Graduates, a national program with the mission to resolve the country’s dropout and transition problems by helping young people overcome barriers to graduate from high school and become college and career ready.

Jackson has been a JAG member for two years and is the Vice President of the JAG Career Association club.

“We’re learning about life after high school and not just how to get any job, but the one that we want,” said Jackson.

JAG Specialist Rick McGuire said the program is designed for students to perform at the highest level to graduate high school and teaches a variety of skills to provide them a job that will make them happy.

“That is the biggest part for me; to not only get them just any job, but something that is going to make them happy and successful adults,” said McGuire.

The program was introduced to Douglas High School in 2016 and has since established a reputation among students.

“We’ve established ourselves and who we are in the school,” said McGuire. “A lot of students see JAG for what it is and we’ve developed some tradition. Kids are interested in it.”

The National Student Leadership Academy was a chance to take the program skills she has obtained a step further, said Jackson.

“I wanted to improve my leadership skills and bring back different ideas from other JAG programs across the country,” she said.

McGuire said the conference is an opportunity for students to interact with each other in a professional business setting and to showcase that and their skills and leadership.

McGuire said in order to be chosen for the conference, JAG Specialists from schools across the country nominate the students who they think are well rounded representatives of the program. The students then complete an application explaining why they want to attend and why they should be chosen.

Jackson was one of the 12 representing Northern Nevada schools at the conference.

“The level of enthusiasm was off the wall,” Jackson said. “I learned a lot and was able to bring back the real meaning of what JAG is and does as a whole and not just at our school.”

Jackson and McGuire each participated in leadership workshops during the conference that provided greater skills and connections within the program.

“It was about forming deeper relationships and I did. I made many new friends and connections through this experience,” Jackson said.

McGuire said the “aha!” moment for him and Jackson during the conference was during a banquet when they both looked at each other and thought “this is a big deal!”

“There were seven governors there from other states speaking on the program,” he said. “Many of them said they receive funding requests for programs all the time, but JAG is a no-brainer. That shows the power and importance of this program.”

They both agreed that it was a life changing experience from the conference to the tours of Washington and being part of something big.

“I am very grateful for having been able to go through that part, it was a very powerful experience,” said McGuire. “It is important that the community knows what a big deal this was for me representing Douglas as a JAG Specialist and McKinna representing her school and the state. I think any student or anyone who has the experience of visiting Washington is life changing and it is a big deal.”

For more information about Jobs for American Graduates visit