Erickson Merkel Foundation: Tell us a little bit about your family and friends growing up, and any positive effect that they had on your formative years.

Jordan Wetovick: My dad and mom instilled in me at a very young age that I needed to learn to be independent not only with taking care of myself, but also in my thinking! Complaining was not tolerated in the home that I grew up in and “the world is out to get me” mentality was only going to bring me down! Thinking positively and willingly ready to go the extra mile were two concepts of how to get ahead in life! When I set off to college in my undergrad, I was determined to prove that I was a smart, determined and driven young woman with goals, dreams and aspirations and I never looked back!

 

EMF: When you were going through elementary, middle or high school, did you have a clear idea on what you wanted to do when you ‘grew up’?

JW: I always knew I wanted to help people and make a difference! Growing up with a mother as an educator, I learned that working in schools served as a way to not only teach, but also to serve as a positive role-model and mentor. Watching my mother truly make a difference in the lives of young people inspired me to do the same. I knew that if I pursued a career in education, I would be able to help shape the lives of today’s young people and tomorrow’s future. As I enter my 7th year of education, (4 years as a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and 2 years as a school counselor) I know that I am helping students believe, achieve and succeed on a daily basis!

 

EMF: When was it that you realized that only you could be responsible for your future, and in what ways did you take control of your life after?

JW: As I prepared for college, I was fully aware of the fact that I was completely responsible for paying for my education! My parents highly encouraged my college career, but assured me that I was on my own when it came to financing my undergraduate degree. It was during my senior year, that I decided to apply for every scholarship that I possibly could because I wanted to graduate debt free! Applying for scholarships became a part time job and after receiving multiple scholarships including the Peter Kiewit Foundation Scholarship which paid for my entire tuition all four years of college, I realized that if I worked hard, set goals and planned ahead, it would pay off! Those scholarship essays were written during late hours of the night after sports practice and homework were done and during weekends when my friends were going to the movies and cruising around town. I knew that no one else was going to write my scholarship essays and that if I wanted financial help, I would have to earn it on my own. This concept still serves as my driving force today!

 

EMF: Were there any people you looked up to when you were younger, and why? Do you have any mentors now? If so, can you tell me about them and what they mean to you?

JW: My mother has always served as my role-model. I have never seen anyone work so hard as a career-woman, while still serving her family with love, support and positive guidance! She worked all day as a teacher, then came home and made supper, helped with homework and never missed a cross-country meet, basketball game or track meet. She modeled to me that if you set your mind to it, you can be a strong career woman, loving mother and passionate wife. She serves as inspiration that giving yourself to others is the greatest gift you can give.

 

EMF: Are there any people living or dead who you draw inspiration from?

JW: My father serves as inspiration to me as well. He has worked hard every day of his life and has been able to provide for his family. The work he does is not behind a desk or computer, but rather with sweat and muscle. As a farmer and rancher, he works from sun up until sun down, seven days a week! The work is never done and failing comes more often than succeeding. When success does come however, it’s because of hard work and determination and there is nothing better than watching your crops and animals develop and grow. Although my father was always busy, he made sure that his family came first and he never missed one sporting event, vocal concert or honors convocation!

 

EMF: Are there any causes that you feel strongly about, that you would like to give back to someday, or that you’ve been able to help out so far?

JW: My husband and I are strong Pro-Life advocates. We serve our community as much as possible when it comes to promoting Pro-Life!

 

EMF: When did you get your first job, where was it, and what prompted you to get it?

JW: I have always grown up working on farm. While in high school, working on our farm and ranch was expected when I wasn’t participating in extra-curricular activities. While in college, I knew I needed to get a job in order to pay for gas and living expenses. Although I needed a supplemental income, I didn’t want my college education to be hindered; I also needed to be able to come home on the weekends to help on the family farm. When I found out about working at a daycare, I realized I could work Monday through Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. This allowed me to go to class in the mornings, complete homework and projects at night and go home to the family farm on the weekends. Working at a childcare center also served as a great way for me to teach children and work with families which fit well with my college major in education.

 

EMF: What keeps you motivated through long weeks of work and study?

JW: My family serves as my ultimate motivation. My career serves as a substantial source of financial security for my family. Being able to provide and support my family is the most rewarding feeling I have ever experienced! My students serve as a deep source of inspiration; my students are the reason I drive to work every morning with a smile on my face. When I serve my students, I truly feel that I am making a difference in their lives as they get ready to plan for their futures and set personal, school and career goals for themselves. It’s ironic, because I encourage my seniors to apply for scholarships on a daily basis and one of my own students told me about the Erikson Merkel Foundation Scholarship! It’s amazing how my students can educate me just as much, if not more than I can teach them!

 

EMF: What are your personal and professional goals?

JW: A wise person once told me that success starts with service! Service leads to fulfillment, fulfillment leads to happiness and happiness leads to success. The order of this sequence is important! Living by this concept both personally and professionally truly serve as my life goal! If I am serving others, I am fulfilled and this leads to my ultimate happiness and in the end this defines success! My hope is to not only lose sight of this concept, but to remember that the sequence is key!

 

EMF: Why do you think it’s important for today’s undergraduates to have a clear understanding of debt and finances?

JW: We live in a society where instant gratification serves as a driving force! Our society encourages that if you want something, just buy it now and worry about paying for it later! The average college graduate has almost $40,000 worth of school debt while the average American family has over $140,000 of debt. With debt serving as a prevalent problem in our society, it becomes even more important to educate our students. Although these statistics are “average,” why not teach students to be “above average”?

 

EMF: Are you planning on any further academic pursuits after completing your current degree?

JW: My current goal is to finish my Master’s Degree in 7-12 School Counseling. After completing my Master’s in School Counseling, I am highly considering completing my Administrative endorsement.

 

EMF: After dedicating yourself to work and study, what do you do to wind down?

JW: I enjoy running with my baby in his jogging stroller. Spending time with my family and watching Home and Garden Television (HGTV).

 

 

EMF: Is there anything you’d like to add?

JW: I am extremely grateful for this scholarship opportunity! I am determined to graduate with my Master’s degree without taking out student loans and this scholarship will help substantially! I preach to my students that applying for scholarships goes far beyond their senior year of high school and receiving this scholarship definitely serves as an example of this theory! Thank you so much for this opportunity!