This story is part of a series of profiles the Ventura County Office of Education is presenting about outstanding graduating seniors in the Class of 2020.
When Jamie Gregory was 11, her beloved uncle Jimmy died of a heroin overdose at the young age of 31. "I was super close to my uncle," she says. "It was really hard for my whole family because he was battling drug addiction for years. He would get better and then he would relapse so many times. It was a hard hit when he passed away."
Jamie and her family received comfort from a Simi Valley-based nonprofit called Not One More, which supports people who are struggling with addiction. "Not One More came in and told us that it's normal to feel this way. They were so welcoming and so kind," she says. "Most of the people in the program have lost people in their family to drug addiction or have seen them go through it, so they know what you're going through."
Jamie never imagined that years later she'd be able to repay Not One More for their support by using her skills in graphic design. She is graduating from Santa Susana High School, a magnet school in Simi Valley with specialized programs in technology and the arts. For her senior project, she chose to design a series of promotional items for Not One More – including posters, flyers, business cards and brochures.
She credits her English teacher, Luke Golden, for pushing her to take on the project. "I got a lot of recognition for doing my senior project," she says. "I can put it on my resume and say I've worked with a client before, which gives me a leg up."
As she prepares to graduate, Jamie is disappointed that she won't be able to celebrate with friends in the usual way because of the coronavirus crisis. "It is really hard because you always hear how prom is so fun and graduation is the best time," she says. But Santa Susana's graduates aren't going unrecognized. To honor its senior class, Santa Susana will hold a car parade and present a virtual graduation ceremony.
This fall, Jamie will attend Moorpark College and continue studying graphic design, which she hopes to make her career. "I really like expressing my emotions and expressing a message through graphic design," she says. "I think it's a very good way to capture people without having to use too many words. It doesn't matter your background, what language you speak or your education level. I like that it's very versatile." You can see some of Jamie's work for Not One More at this link.
More Stories about the Ventura County Class of 2020
Destiny Sausedo - Ventura High School
By the time she was sixteen, Destiny Sausedo had lived through the death of her brother in a drive-by shooting and the loss of her mother to a drug overdose. Before she died, her mom was often incapacitated by drugs and Destiny was her primary caregiver.
Nico Young - Newbury Park High School
Newbury Park High School track and cross country star Nico Young isn’t used to standing still. In the past two years, he’s racked up an incredible series of victories, shattering records along the way. He’s widely considered one of the best high school runners in the nation. But these days, amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, this champion is adapting to a slower pace of life.
Jesus Martinez - Hueneme High School
Jesus Martinez remembers taking trips to Malibu with his mom when he was younger – not to enjoy the beach or the restaurants, but to help with her job cleaning houses and hotel rooms. “I grew up fast and I lost a lot of my childhood because I had to work at a really young age,” he says.
Jonah and Kelsie Hoj - Nordhoff High School
For Jonah and Kelsie Hoj, high school was a family affair. They both attended Nordhoff High School in Ojai along with their older sister. And both of their parents are teachers at the school – dad teaches history and drama, mom teaches dance.
Diego Mosqueda - Gateway Community School
Things were going great in Diego Mosqueda’s life until the start of his junior year when his dad became seriously ill without warning. “I was thinking that my life can’t get any better than this," he says.
From the Superintendents
The leaders of Ventura County's school districts share their messages of congratulations for their graduating seniors in this most unusual year.