Author and motivational speaker Jamicka Jones is on a mission – a blessed mission to impress on practically everyone she meets that “You Matter.” In fact, she’s written a book titled exactly that and she’s backing it up with regular visits to area high schools and meetings of Toastmasters, Rotary, Kiwanis clubs and the like as a guest speaker to share her personal story and why her passion is to make an impression on others to live in their purpose every day.
“I love people,” Jones said. “From nine years old I’d want to make people smile and make them happy because I know a lot of people live in a world where they go through things and don’t know how to appreciate themselves or they get so much negativity thrown at them that there’s no one being positive to them. I didn’t realize until time went on that this was truly my purpose. I knew I wanted to be a motivational speaker but I had to realize that my purpose is to inspire people on a day-to-day basis.”
Rogers High School in Puyallup is one of her favorite places to go. She’s there every Friday to meet with AVID classes (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and she doesn’t get paid a dime for it, as such is the depth of her commitment to the students there.
“It’s the classes that prepare students for college. It’s usually students who may have struggles at home or they’re first-generational potential college students,” Jones explained. “I am a first-generation college graduate. I had struggles at home. I wish I’d had these classes so it’s an honor to be able to go and speak to them.”
“Ms. Edwards was among the most memorable, well-received of all our guests,” says Rogers High School teacher Nikki Shannon. “Whereas students often become bored with speakers, Ms. Edwards left my students hungering for more. As a seasoned educator, I was impressed by her pedagogy; I found myself learning right along with my students.”
“From the minute she entered the room, the kids were hooked,” according to teacher Jarret Dodge. “Her presence took over the room and the kids, as well as myself, were automatically engaged. Her message was inspiring, and it was not just through her courageous and remarkable life journey, but how she was able to connect with a diverse group of students.”
And the students love her – so much so that they tend to not even notice when the bell rings. They just want her to stay because she listens to them and helps them figure out where they want to go in life. With activities and ice-breakers she helps the students get to know each other better and, in turn, to know themselves better. Every week she goes around the classroom and asks the students individually what each one has done that week to get closer to their personal goals. “I have them write out three goals they want to accomplish between now and September,” Jones said. “They’re all inspiring each other and now they’re realizing how much they need each other.”
Students’ written evaluations of Jones’ presentations prove their effectiveness. Finishing the sentence, “This guest speaker taught me…,” students wrote things like:
“That I need to surround myself with more positive people that can help me be better than I am.”
“As soon as you feel you want to give up, or if someone tells you that you can’t do something, never quit. Persevere and don’t stop until you are successful.”
“That there are going to be obstacles in your life but you can’t let them stop you from reaching your dreams.”
Jones has been to Jason Lee Middle School as well and she was the keynote speaker for the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) fall conference two years ago at Tacoma Public Schools’ Professional Development Center that attracted 16 different area high schools and more than 200 students. Her additional engagements include holding workshops and speaking at the Washington Association of Educational Office Professionals and participating in the annual Black Women’s Expo in Chicago, where she was invited as a guest on the nationally radio syndicated “A.C. Green Show” and even had a chance to meet and chat with television talk show host Steve Harvey.
It’s Jones’ conviction and contagious energy that seem to draw people to her – an authenticity that she got from living, and often overcoming, life experiences.
“My father was abusive to my mother and I was exposed to drugs and alcohol at a very early age, as young as I can remember,” Jones recalled. “She left him when I was nine, but I saw him abuse her a lot.” Even though those things happened, Jones said she didn’t let it affect her negatively. When her mom moved the family to a new city and Jones went from a predominantly African-American school to a predominantly Caucasian school, she put herself into positive activities and made friends.
“It was a culture shock for me but it was the best thing my mom could have done because it exposed me to different cultures that I needed to have in my life to make me the person that I am,” Jones said. “It was hard the first year but after that people got to know me and I got to know them and it was a lot better.”
When she was a freshman in high school Jones was deeply impacted when she heard professional motivational speaker Eddie Slowikowski and from that day forward Jones knew her calling would be to motivate and inspire others to live their life to the fullest.
“He really helped me to believe in myself. I felt the words that he said coming straight to me. After that I became more involved,” Jones said. She ended up being the first black state president of FCCLA for Illinois and she was a state vice-president for Business Professionals of America (BPA).
Later on in life, Jones enlisted and served in the U.S. Army. In 2009 she ran as Mrs. Fife to compete for the title of Mrs. Washington.
Writing her book was a highlight in her life. On July 8, 2014 “You Matter: What would living in your purpose every day look like?” was published and all while Jones worked a full-time job and took care of her three children. The first half of her book takes the reader through her life growing up and how she came to be the thoughtful, courageous, compassionate and forward-thinking woman with the infectious smile that she is today. The second half is made up of short stories by people she has met along the way, and is still in touch with, who wrote about their experiences with Jones, and it makes for an uplifting, positive read. Readers will certainly find themselves within the stories.
“It’s stories about me, but it’s not about me,” Jones said of her book. “It’s about other people realizing they matter and finding their purpose and realizing it’s not too late.”
After “You Matter” was published, Jones embarked on a book tour beginning in Chicago (her hometown) then to Georgia, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana and Washington. She has sold more than 600 copies and was able to get it into five public libraries in Illinois.
Ultimately, this single mom with three kids (ages 4, 12 and 13) is aiming to develop her calling as way to financially support her family. “They are my true inspiration and my ‘why’ and they keep pushing me beyond what I can think without them realizing it,” she said. “I’m going to keep going. I’m going to find a way.”
Jones is available for speaking engagements to youth and adults alike. Phone her at (253) 882-8720 or contact her through her website at http://www.JamickaJones.com, where you can order a copy of her book, signed and with a personal message. Those who prefer the Kindle version can order it at Amazon.com.