Moving to a new city and attending a different school are all changes students have to make when their families relocate. Such an adjustment can be difficult at first, but the changes can often be rewarding.
No one knows that better than Ja’mya Johnson. Ja’mya moved to Philadelphia from Virginia several years ago. She is currently a senior at the William W. Bodine High School for International Affairs.
“At the time, I was new to Philadelphia and I didn’t know anything, which is why when it came time to take the PSSA’s I failed,” Ja’mya said. “My grades were not correlated with my personality at all. During that time, I was also going through the high school selection process.
In addition to applying to various high schools in the City, I also applied to Bodine.
“Bodine was the only high school that I applied to that required me to write an essay to go along with the application process. That essay saved me because if I didn’t go to Bodine I would have ended up going to my neighborhood school. Bodine didn’t just look at my grades, they also took an interest in the person that I was.
“Going to Bodine for high school really saved my life,” she added. “This school helped me grow into the person that I wanted to be. They put me on a path to help me achieve my dreams and goals. I know that I will be successful because of this school. This school has completely changed my life.”
Since being a student at Bodine, Ja’mya has kept a busy schedule. She participates in numerous programs at her school.
“I’m the captain of the debate and badminton teams,” Ja’mya said. “I participate with in the speaker series that we have in partnership with the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia. I’m also one of their student leaders.
“I participate in their summer leadership internship and their summer leadership seminar. I learned my second language here, which is Spanish. I’m also learning German.
“I’m a part of the African American Student Association and the Student Government Association,” she added. “All of the programs that I’ve participated in has opened my eyes to so many different things. The opportunities and experiences have been amazing.”
Through the partnership with the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, Bodine students serve as delegates and leaders at the Council’s annual high school simulation programs (International Student Summit and Global Economic Forum). The students are frequent guests at the Council’s speaker event series, which feature some of the world’s most influential leaders and experts.
“Bodine’s school environment made me want to try to become a diplomat, which is why I wanted to be apart of the Speaker Series” Ja’mya said. “I thought it would be a great way for me to meet people who are influential in American Society.
“During that program, I met Condoleezza Rice and I recently met the top diplomat for Barack Obama’s administration,” she added. “That whole program as well as being a student at Bodine helped make me believe that I can make a difference in the world too. That I can reach back and help somebody like they have helped me.”
Adding to Ja’mya’s enthusiasm at Bodine is the high-caliber of teachers and staff. She appreciates the academic aptitude of her teachers as well as the personal investments they make in her and fellow students.
“We have a great principal along with supportive teachers and staff at Bodine,” Ja’mya said. “Because we’re a small school everyone here is very close; we’re like family. They’re supportive, but also give you that tough love when necessary.
“They want to see us succeed and make a difference in the world. Another thing that is very important here is that the school provides us with an environment to have free speech. We can have open conversations in our classes about issues that are affecting the community, city, or the world.
“We have those tough conversations and I love that our school does not shy away from that, but embrace it,” she added. “This enables us to go outside of our school environment and be who we really want to be in the world.”
Ja’mya said that once she graduates from high school, she wants to go to college for political science. She said she would like to attend Bryn Mawr College.
“I want to major in political science of foreign policy,” Ja’mya said. “Once I get my Bachelors, I want to continue with school and get my master’s in Political Science. I want to be a news broadcaster.
“Before coming to Bodine, I did not know what I wanted to do, but this school has exposed me to a number of things and a number of future paths. From that, I was able to make a decision of where I wanted to be. I know that this is just the beginning for me. I’m looking forward to my next journey.”