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Senior Spotlight: Clay High's James Jetty

Future in psychology: 'Maybe I can save a lot of family structures'

Don Coble
Posted 5/9/24

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – For most of his young life, James Jetty’s only future was figuring out where he would sleep that night. Sometimes, he found a spot in the back of his mother’s tattoo …

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Senior Spotlight: Clay High's James Jetty

Future in psychology: 'Maybe I can save a lot of family structures'


Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – For most of his young life, James Jetty’s only future was figuring out where he would sleep that night. Sometimes, he found a spot in the back of his mother’s tattoo parlor. On other nights, he slept in the back of her car.

He said what compounded what was quickly becoming a desolate existence was the pandemic and drug addictions by his mother and her boyfriend.

Depression and loneliness led to at least 50 absences at Orange Park High. Moreover, he felt like nobody noticed or cared.

“I had a bad home environment,” James said. “I was in the accelerated program at Orange Park, but deep down, I knew I could succeed. I knew I didn’t want to be like that.”

So he moved to Green Cove Springs with family friends, Houston and Kacie Harley. The original arrangement was for the summer after his sophomore year, but it’s morphed into his graduation from Clay High on May 23 – and beyond.

His future plans include attending Seminole State College and then the University of Central Florida to earn a degree in Psychology.

James’s class load as a senior included Advance Placement and Association of International Credential Evaluators classes, and he has close to a 4.0 grade point average.

“I want to become a psychiatrist,” James said. “I feel like after that experience I had with my family, I think a lot about mental health. I realized that we didn’t have any therapy. We didn’t have anyone to talk to. I just thought, how could the situation have changed? If you know, if we had a therapist, if we could talk it out, if we could have, you know, maybe been diagnosed, maybe be medicated.

“I don’t want anyone, especially another child like me, to fall under those circumstances that I had to go through. So I felt like, focusing on mental health, maybe I can save a lot of family structures.”

He said adjusting to living with the Harleys wasn’t easy because they demanded structure and responsibility. What he quickly learned was stability became an essential part of his growth.

“I have my own room,” he said. “They are my guardians. I now dream of being a good father, a good husband. It wasn’t always like that.”

Part of his growth meant severing ties with his mother. It’s a past he can’t revisit.

“I feel like it’s healthy that way,” he said. “It’s just hard to take an apology for everything that happened. I’ve been able to focus a lot on myself, and I’ve been able to improve myself and my own well-being.”