Alumni Profile - Jackie Walterman Chavez, ’07
Reprinted from Spring 2017 Alumni Newsletter
Jacqueline (Jackie) Walterman arrived at Boys Town in early June 2003. Her life journey to this point was neither kind to her nor of her choosing. Chavez says, “In February of 2003, I was facing a lot of challenges with my family. After being passed around from family member to family member, I felt discouraged and alone. Many of my family members suffered from addictions or mental illnesses. Some were abusive and told me that I belong in a locked cell. I will never forget my situation when I discovered Boys Town. I was placed in a home where I was put in a locked room; the only person I saw was a counselor or when I was escorted to a schoolhouse down the hall. One day I expressed my frustrations to my counselor and she told me about Boys Town. She let me write a letter asking to be accepted at Boys Town. Weeks later I received word that I was accepted. After obtaining my guardians’ approval I left for Boys Town and my new future.”
Upon being placed in a family home Chavez began to experience the real meaning of being in a normal family. “My Family-Teachers® were encouraging and praised my accomplishments, big and small. They even inspired me to participate in sports. When I came in last place, they still held my hand and told me that I can achieve better results. Before, I never expected to be in a family that did not resort to violence or addiction.” Her transition was not without its challenges. “I had a difficult time adjusting to this new environment. I often fought the system and spent many days without privileges.” Chavez enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), winter cheerleading and many other programs after her first year at Boys Town. “Overall, the feelings I had from achieving goals in these areas were most memorable to me. They taught me that I could achieve my goals with perseverance and hard work.”
Chavez cites her Family-Teachers® Bill and Toni Harris and James and Michelle Sause for believing in her and supporting her to become successful. “They always motivated me to become a better athlete and student. They were true and loving individuals who wanted me to succeed. They encouraged my enlistment into the military, which was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”
After graduating from Boys Town, Chavez went back to the environment she had left four years prior. Fortunately, she was able to leave for Army Basic Combat training later that summer. “I enlisted as an intelligence analyst and learned Modern Standard Arabic. After two and a half years, I sustained several injuries and received an honorable medical discharge.” After the military Chavez met her husband and moved to North Carolina. While there, she worked as a correctional officer with the Department of Public Safety, held positions with the State Prison Emergency Response Team and was accepted as a disciplinary investigator and Security Threat Group Intelligence Officer. Transferring to Colorado Springs with her husband, she set goals for her future. “My primary objective was to enroll in the Intelligence Studies program with American Military University and finish my degree.”
“I can honestly say that the most important lesson I learned (at Boys Town) was how to accept things I can and cannot change. Confronting challenges became something that I no longer avoided. Moreover, accepting criticism was a very essential lesson.” Chavez further says, “When I entered the military, I was able to comply with instructions from my supervisors, no matter how tough they were. These skills served me well in the positions I held after my departure from the Army. I owe these successes entirely to my Family -Teachers®, who consistently helped me even when I felt disparaged by my own faults.”
The skills she acquired at Boys Town made Chavez a much stronger person. “I encouraged myself and accepted situations I couldn’t change at every challenge over the last 10 years. Doing so allowed me to stay on track with my goals. I began my journey toward achieving my Bachelors of Arts in Intelligence Studies in late 2014. During the last couple years, I encountered obstacles and could have easily quit. However, I accepted feedback from my professors and continued to drive on. In May of this year I will be graduating with a high GPA, memberships with a few national honor societies, and an expansive knowledge in my areas of study. Everything I learned at Boys Town has given me the ability to set and achieve my goals.”
Upon graduating from college Chavez plans to seek work with the federal government or a government contractor in the intelligence field.
In her leisure time she enjoys spending time with her husband. They both love traveling and are saving up for a trip to Europe. She also enjoys reading historical novels, hiking and exploring in the mountains of Colorado.
Chavez is a Lifetime Member of the Boys Town National Alumni Association®. Of this she says, “I am proud to be an alumnus of Boys Town, the home where I learned life skills and to become the person I am today.”