Jocelyn is a 16-year-old junior at Riverside University High School. Raised on Milwaukee’s North Side, Jocelyn began attending COA’s teen program at the Goldin Center in 2017. She came every day after school to receive homework help. When she first began in the teen program, Jocelyn was closed-off, anti-social and distanced herself from her peers. Soon after joining COA, Jocelyn began participating in COA’s Music and Video Education Program.
Through this program, youth meet biweekly with a program facilitator – a local filmmaker and musician part of the local New Age Narcissism artists’ collective – in COA’s two recording studios for music and video production, songwriting, and filmmaking workshops. Jocelyn had an interest in making music, so she relished this opportunity to learn new skills, access a recording studio, and practice her craft. Jocelyn got to work with COA’s program facilitator to write and record original songs and shoot her own music videos. COA’s Music and Video Education Program also gave Jocelyn and her fellow youth in the cohort opportunities to practice their performance skills and see firsthand how a full-time musician operates.
Jocelyn got the chance to perform her music at venues throughout the City, including Company Brewing, Milwaukee Art Museum, and COA’s Skyline Music Series. These performances inspired Jocelyn to commit herself even more to her artistic development and even made her think about pursuing a career as an artist. In no time, Jocelyn went from barely speaking to her peers to showcasing her musical talent on stages citywide. Her participation in COA’s Music and Video Education program gave her the confidence to express herself, connect with others, and explore other interests.
Jocelyn expanded her participation into COA’s other youth development programming. She sharpened her gardening skills through the Teens Grow Greens program and began volunteering through COA’s community development initiatives. She became an active volunteer in the Amani community surrounding – helping out at community events and at COA’s food pantry. After being welcomed by COA’s staff and immersing herself in all the arts and community engagement opportunities that COA has to offer, Jocelyn fully found her voice. “She came out of her shell,” said COA’s Teen Coordinator.
According to Jocelyn, the positive experiences she had at COA also significantly impacted her academic achievement at school. Before she began attending COA, she had a C average. Now, she is on the honor roll. At first unsure of herself and her aspirations, Jocelyn gained the confidence, self-awareness, and foresight to map out her future plans. She knew she loved helping others and creating music, so she decided that she wanted to become an artist, a social worker and start a youth-centered nonprofit to support young people. Her goals don’t stop there; she also strives to take her art to the next level: by continuing to rap, write, and sing. Through her growth as a musician and the strong relationships formed at COA, Jocelyn blossomed into a confident aspiring musician and social worker.
Each year at COA’s Oscar Night Hollywood Gala, COA honors one program participant who demonstrates what it means to reach their greatest potential with COA’s Rising Star Award. In February 2019, COA awarded Jocelyn with COA’s annual Rising Star Award. COA honored Jocelyn for her outstanding dedication to her music, peers, community, and her tremendous leadership and personal growth throughout COA programs. Jocelyn’s transformation and the opportunities she took advantage of in order to develop her passion for music and helping others gave her the confidence to develop goals for the future. “Jocelyn has a bright future ahead of her,” said COA’s Teen Coordinator. “The sky has no limit.”