Hargrave overcame obstacles to graduate

Published 12:28 am Wednesday, May 16, 2018

By Sabrina Simms

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Sometimes the future shines the brightest out of the darkest moments, at least that is the case for a Natchez Early College Academy graduating senior Jimya Hargrave.

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Hargrave said she faced many different struggles, not just with her academics but also in her life altogether.

“First I lost my god-mother,” she said. “She helped raise me from the time I was 2-months-old until she died. Then my mother had breast cancer, so I dealt with that. Then I lost my daddy at 14 years old. Then I had a baby at 15.”

Hargrave said she did not receive any special scholarships, but she proudly maintained her honors status with her college courses at NECA while nurturing her toddler, Jayden, at home.

“I couldn’t do as much as I wanted to because I had him,” Hargrave said. “At first, I didn’t have anyone to keep him, so I was up all night and then I had to go to school the next morning anyway.”

Hargrave attended Natchez Freshman Academy for her first year of high school. She said it was easy for her at first, but during her pregnancy, things became difficult for her.

“I was ashamed,” she said. “So I didn’t let everybody know or expose it. I tried to hide it from everybody that I could.”

Although Hargrave did not participate in any afterschool activities or sports teams, she did maintain her honors GPA and is a member of the National Beta Club.

She said her mother, god-sister, step-father, friends and family have offered her a streamline of support — especially her mother, Joyce Hargrave Felton.

When Hargrave felt like dropping out of school, her mother offered her wisdom from her own experience. Felton said she had her first son when she was 13 years old and decided too soon to drop out of school to raise him.

“I could help my kids with their homework (at first) but it started getting harder,” Felton said, “especially with my oldest son. When he got into the eighth-grade, I couldn’t help with his math, and I couldn’t tell him that I didn’t know how. So I went back to school.”

Felton became a nurse and inspired her daughter to do the same.

“I didn’t just instill in my kids that … education is important,” Felton said. “I showed them.”

When Hargrave became discouraged about not receiving scholarships to continue her education at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Felton told her, “God has your scholarship.”

Felton said her daughter’s accomplishments may not all be recognized on paper, but they are still rewarded in the grander scheme of life.

Hargrave said her strongest subject in school is math. She wants to finish the credits she has earned at Co-Lin and become a pediatrician.

“I love babies, and I hate to see them sick,” Hargrave said. “If there is anything I can do to help them I will.”

Hargrave said her road to success as a graduating senior was not an easy one, and she wants to encourage others who have had their own hardships, whether they have lost a loved one or gained one without planning to.

“Just don’t give up,” Hargrave said.