GREENFIELD – A Greenfield teen who epitomizes the Jobs for America’s Graduates program earned the prestigious 2024 JAG Outstanding Senior award.

JC Matlock, who graduated mid-year from Greenfield-Central High School, went into the JAG program not believing the program was for her, she said. But struggling with grades academically, her school advisors encouraged her to try harder and explore what she wanted to do for a career.

Matlock, who now works at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, says the program offered her clear direction that she wanted to go into law enforcement and she’s grateful for the program that not only improved her grades but led her toward her future. She’s currently taking classes at Ivy Tech Community College.

“When I first started JAG, I wasn’t the best student with academics,” said Matlock, an 18-year-old Greenfield native. “JAG encouraged me to try harder and helped me get in my career path that I’m in now.”

JAG is a national resiliency-building workforce program that helps students learn in-demand employability skills and provides a bridge to educational and career opportunities. There are 125 JAG programs throughout Indiana.

Matlock, a Greenfield native, said her grade point average was below 1.0 her sophomore year of high school. She thought maybe she wanted to get into a medical career path. Her family is in law enforcement so she wanted to try something different. JAG had her delving into the medical field, where she realized it wasn’t for her. Instead, she discovered law enforcement – possibly eventually detective work – might be her path.

Her GPA improved to a 2.2. She began an internship with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, and today she continues to work there part-time monitoring the jail’s security, answering phone calls, and working with female inmates.

“JAG is a great way to find out where you want to be in the future because I have taken an almost entirely diff path from what I thought I was going to do,” she said. “You learn more about the career, not just what it does, but the pay, the hours, what it takes, you get to talk to people in the field.”

Her supervisor at the jail, Sergeant Ron Durbin, said Matlock has maturity and communication skills beyond her years, and it’s refreshing to see her motivation.

Matlock said she wouldn’t hesitate to share her story with others that are unsure about their final years of high school or what to do beyond.

“The program is two years at Greenfield; those two years of high school you will find out what you want to do and if not, get a good idea of where you want to go,” she said.

This is the first time a Greenfield-Central student earned the statewide senior award. Matlock epitomizes what the JAG program is all about, says Darren Turner, Greenfield-Central JAG specialist. She is also president of the school’s JAG Career Association and a leader among her peers with a strong work ethic.

“I could not be more proud that she was named, not only the Region 5 CDC Outstanding Senior, but the JAG Indiana 2024 State CDC Outstanding Senior,” Turner said. “She is most definitely deserving of this honor. JC is a rare student that truly epitomizes the mission of JAG.”

Matlock said she was shocked when her name was called at the March 15 State Career Development Conference. Prior to getting there, students had competed at the regional level in 12 regions across the state; she had previously earned the regional senior award for the donut county region.

“The thing that sticks out to me about JC is that she entered JAG skeptical of, if it was for her,” said Bart Doan, assistant director of youth initiatives for JAG Indiana. “But by the time she came to being an Outstanding Senior, she’d stepped up in leadership capacities she never thought she would be able to. She found a career path she was passionate about to the point where she gained an internship in her chose field of study, criminal justice.”

Doan said her commitment to JAG beyond graduation is exciting, and in the future she would tell others about her success in the program.

“JC is a hard worker, voracious about making sure she opens doors when opportunity knocks, and is everything a student leader in the JAG Indiana program would represent,” Doan said.