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Joveaya White

Blossoming Transplant

By Nate Fisher

“Trials can be transformed into triumphs.”

When Joveaya White arrived in Meridian from the sun-rich hills of Texas, she carried more than her belongings; she had both hopes and uncertainties about starting anew. The transition from San Antonio’s “River Walk” way of life to a new chapter in Illinois was a leap of faith for her present self and the person she hopes to become one day.

Joveaya’s first year in Mounds allowed her a newfound empathy with astronauts and their encounters on unknown planetary frontiers. By her admission, life in a new place was “rocky” at the beginning. Adaptation requires several steps into the unknown, and that can be scary. The initial days were marked by a nervy cocktail of excitement and expected anxiety as unfamiliar face after unacquainted face passed her in the halls of a new school. However, the sea of strangers wasn’t without its anchors, and she found points of harbor through her teachers — ports of encouragement, guidance, and reinforcement. These mentorships offered a healthy serving of heart, and Joveaya settled into a sense of belonging in her sixth-grade year.

Her athletic exploits in basketball, volleyball, and softball have also taught her how to be at home in a different place. The universal lessons of discipline, teamwork, and perseverance can be found everywhere, and sports have etched the importance of structure in Joveaya’s long-term memory. Team participation and competition address conflicts and confrontations in a low-stakes environment. These challenges can seem like life or death to an athlete, and the personal growth athletes experience helps them recognize that play synchronizes with seemingly unrelated high-stakes situations later in life. Joveaya has stepped through to the other side of this rite of passage. Trials, she now understands, can be transformed into triumphs.

In the inevitable rest that follows the pressure of the court, she dreams of teaching dance. Joveaya’s roots in Illinois thrive, but she longs for Texas — the state her beloved family calls home. Education, she explains, is a means to an end. Before she returns to that treasured Texan landscape, she wants to earn the qualifications that will allow her the freedom to do so. Joveaya holds true to her sense of duty to family. Her mother, auntie, and cousins are among many people in her circle who ease her forward and bring her closer to that goal.

Joveaya, in a dream of our own imagining, steps off the Greyhound onto a city curb, the colorful murals of San Antonio quieter beneath the sunrise. The calm, sparse expanse of Mounds, with its endless fields and unhurried pace, had cultivated large yields of personal development for her through every season. Now, the aroma of Tex-Mex and barbecue carries her into a buzzing storm of distinct faces and languages. The energy isn’t overwhelming; she feels at home. She has an idea to merge both of the homes she’s known to create educational programs that draw on the strengths of multiple environments. It occurs to Joveaya that home isn’t simply a place but a determined mission to make a difference, grounded in the love for one’s place of origin and the hope for a better destination.

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