This is the second in the “Pathway Series” of stories on Destiny Jedlicka, an Orlando resident who grew up in Florida’s foster care system. Read Part 1 here, which addressed Jedlicka’s tumultuous childhood and her enrollment at Rollins College at age 29. In Part 2, we check in after her first semester at Rollins.
Destiny Jedlicka didn’t collect very many cherished classroom memories after entering Florida’s foster care system at age 8 and averaging several schools a year throughout her childhood.
Fortunately, her most recent go-around as a student has been much more enjoyable and productive.
“This is the most I’ve ever liked school,” Jedlicka said. The 30-year-old Orlando resident is currently enrolled at Rollins College in Winter Park, where she is pursuing a business degree with a minor in occupational studies.
Jedlicka has been particularly impressed by the personal touch at Rollins.
“It’s a great school, and I know that if I have a question I can call them and ask instead of being told I have to come in person, which is hard for me because of work,” Jedlicka said. “I can send an email and get a response to my question pretty quickly.”
Jedlicka works full-time as an HR assistant for an Orlando-based pest control business. She completed two evening classes at Rollins during the fall semester.
Initially, Jedlicka thought she would have to pull scholastic double-duty last semester. In addition to starting school at Rollins, Jedlicka was planning on taking a class at Orlando’s Valencia College during the fall in order to complete her associate in arts (AA) degree.
But after speaking with her counselors, Jedlicka learned she was able to satisfy her Valencia AA requirements through her coursework at Rollins.
“I was asking about my options, I told them it would be easier for me to finish up at Rollins, and they told me it would work,” Jedlicka said.
Prior to this year, Jedlicka experienced several false starts on her way to college.
After aging out of foster care at age 18 and dropping out of high school, she bypassed continuing her education in order to work as an administrative assistant. She briefly attempted to return to her studies the following year, earning her GED and enrolling at ITT Technical Institute in Greenville, South Carolina, where Jedlicka is originally from. However, her stepmother’s declining health led to her dropping out.
Jedlicka is a lot more confident and comfortable within her current trajectory.
“My first semester at Rollins was very similar to my first semester at Valencia,” she said. “I’ve been able to meet new people and create friendships. I’m still friends with some of the people I met at Valencia, and I think it’s going to be the same way at Rollins.”
Jedlicka admits she was initially intimidated by the coursework at Rollins, which included a sizable research paper for Intercultural Communication, the elective course that allowed her to complete her AA.
“It was intense because there was no homework for this class, just this major research paper that was due and ended up being 23 pages,” she said. “I had to be self-sufficient and get the research done on my own, so it was a great learning experience.”
Meanwhile, her business class — which focused on Social Entrepreneurship — required her to create a mock company and present her recipe for success. Jedlicka took the opportunity to develop an idea she has for a real-life business once she completes her studies.
“It started out as a drive-thru service where parents can order diapers, Tylenol, whatever they need and not be in the store with a fussy child, but now it’s more of a Shipt (grocery delivery) model,” Jedlicka said of her proposed business.
Jedlicka, who has a 4-year-old son named Jacob, said her first semester at Rollins has further emboldened her to pursue her professional goals.
“This class and this experience really opened my eyes that I could be a business owner one day,” she said.
This story is part of Florida College Access Network’s “Pathway Series”, a year-long project that seeks to highlight the diversity of experiences students face as they pursue postsecondary degrees. Each student will be profiled at the start of the school year, during the fall, in the spring, and during the summer following the conclusion of their first year.