celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

YMCA arts director stuck with it

Jenna Hodges
Age: 36
Occupation: Teen and Arts Director, Amarillo Family YMCA

Where did you receive your education?
Randall High School; Amarillo College; University of Central Florida.

How has your education played a role in your life today?
A summer-theater camp turned me from a 10-year-old getting into fights into a driven performer. I stuck with theater through high school, won scholarships to college and eventually, through a caring professor, was able to work for Cirque du Soleil for six years traveling the globe. Now I put everything I have learned into my job at the Y.

What was your greatest educational challenge and how did you overcome it?
I had to take two years off, one after my freshman year and one after my first year at UCF. I had to work and save enough money to pay for what scholarships and work study did not. It was a struggle and I graduated at a late age, but the goal was worth it.

What is the value of your education?
It enabled me to found a theater company, to find work outside of performing and to think creatively in jobs that require new ways to approach persistent problems.

What would you say to someone who's undecided about continuing their education?
It doesn't matter if don't have a degree plan or an idea of a career, just go. As you attend classes and meet new people, you will find out who you are and what you care about.

When did you make education a priority?
I cannot remember education not being a priority. I wanted to better myself and my circumstances.

What made you realize the importance of education in your life?
I realized that education was important in my life around the time I was traveling with Cirque du Soleil. I realized that without the educational path I took, I may not have reached that goal.

Did you ever think about quitting? What made you keep going?
I thought about quitting my second year at the University of Central Florida. My sister and I were living together at the time and she encouraged me to register. She helped me with my living expenses so I could pay for tuition and books. She made me realize that, if you want something bad enough, help will come and a way will be found.

2009 Stories
2008 Archive
calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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