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From juvenile detention to nursing: How one Indianapolis mom turned her life around

Jennifer Davis is a mother of four from the far eastside of Indianapolis.
Jennifer Davis is a mother of four from the far eastside of Indianapolis.
Dylan Peers McCoy

Chalkbeat journalists ask the people we come across in our work to tell us about their education stories and how learning shaped who they are today. Learn more about this series, and read other installments, here.

Jennifer Davis is mother of four children and a nursing student on the far eastside of Indianapolis. She is an Indianapolis Public Schools parent and a member of the parent advocacy group Stand for Children calling for improvement at John Marshall High School.

My name is Jennifer Davis. I am a mother of four.

I was a good student and a bad child. Middle school was when I was having a lot of problems outside of school. I actually got locked up in middle school because a little boy kept on picking with me, and I decided to beat him up in the lunchroom. They shackled me in school and took me to juvenile (detention). I wasn’t there that long — long enough for them to process me and for my mother to come get me.

I went to high school at Arsenal Tech. And my mom used to literally walk me to my first class and pray that I stayed for the rest of the day. I actually enjoyed Tech. Then I got in trouble — got caught stealing cars. I actually was in girls school (juvenile detention) for a bit. I was there for 8 months.

I was about 16 when I found out I was pregnant. I ended up getting out of Tech and switching to home schooling. By the time I finished school, I had three babies.

After having kids I’ve always said, I need a work balance. I don’t need as much money. I’ve always worked day shifts so in the evenings I could be with my kids. I worked at a daycare when the baby girl was little, so she wouldn’t have to be the daycare by herself.

I am currently in school for nursing, and I will be an LPN.

I took (my children) on the (college) interviews with me. They could see the process of getting into college so when it’s time for them to go, they know what to expect.

My (oldest) son, he’s 17 now. I really did want him to go to college because degrees are necessary for a lot of things. It’s not like it was in the past where you can work your way up in a lot of places. I’ve tried to stress that to him.

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