The Girls!

Jocelyn Woods

Los Angeles, CAStory & Photography by Lauri LevenfeldRetail by Izzy Be

In April 2017 Jocelyn Woods appeared on the stage at the RDMA’s I was attending with my daughter Harley and I was immediately captivated. Jocelyn’s story tugged at my heart, a childhood which began complicated yet bloomed into a life prospered by love and inspiration. At five years old, Woods entered the doors to the Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley, and suddenly, she felt safe, secure and supported to try new things, develop new skills, educate

and wonder. And through her many successes along the way, Woods became a believer and a leader paving the way for others.  With a full ride to USC and the honor of National Youth of the Year in her pocket, it is now Woods lifetime goal to make education, more specifically the college process, easy and accessible to others, especially those from impoverished backgrounds (like herself) who need a little more encouragement and support along the way.   

 

 

1. Who are you? And what were you like as a child?

My name is Jocelyn Woods, a multimedia journalist, programmer, and creative storyteller with a strong passion for social good and helping others find their voice and tell their story. When I was a child, I asked way too many questions, wanted to be everything when I grew up (from the President of the United States to a world traveling cook), and loved to read. Not much has changed since then.

 

2. Tell us about the Boys and Girls Club of America.

I was born and raised in the heart of the Silicon Valley: San Jose. Yet, I grew up on the eastside where there weren’t tech startups and fancy water. My neighborhood was frequented by cop cars and crime, no one went to college, and my single parent mother struggled to provide for my brother, sister and I. Amidst the adversity I faced growing up, the Smythe Boys & Girls Club became my safe haven. It the only positive environment I was familiar with. The Club became the home that supported me, taught me to love learning, and believed in me when no one else did.

I started going to the Club when I was 5 years old, and it was home to many of my firsts: first time on a plane, first time to Disneyland, first time playing on a team, and first time coding, among many others. For the past 14 years, the Boys & Girls Club has been my home. This past year, I was selected to represent over 4 million Club youths as the National Youth of the Year.

3. You just got a full scholarship to USC (my alma mater) – Tell us about your studies and life on campus.

I am currently double majoring in Journalism and Computer Science at the University of Southern California. With tuition on the rise, I have been blessed with a full scholarship from University grants and $150,000 in scholarship as a part of the National Youth of the Year award.

I am often traveling across the nation sharing my story with others. But when I’m on campus, you can find me either planning and leading Alternative Spring Breaks (a volunteer service that takes place over academic breaks with a certain mission) or creating films, music and other creative content with USC’s Creative Experience, an outlet for black creatives on campus.

 

4. Learning to code has given you the freedom to create, how do you hope to empower others with this skillset?

I first learned how to code at the Club when I was 10 years old. One of my mentors encouraged me to join this program where we learned how to code a video game we created. This program exposed me to a skillset that I didn’t know existed, and especially not for anyone that looked like me. Yet, that introduction became the stepping stones for me to create an app in high school and pursue a career in the tech field.

I hope to create a program that integrates code and tech skills into kids’ everyday lives, especially those that come from impoverished backgrounds. It was that very type of program that broadened my horizons, and I feel it is my calling to give back.

 5. Tell us more about your path to college and making education a possible & must for others.

I am a staunch believer that education is power. Education became the necessary catalyst that helped me break tangent to the cycle of poverty. So, I have this calling to give back and make education widely accessible for others. I’m currently working on releasing an ebook I’ve written about the college process. In the future, I want to disrupt the education system and make it widely available and highly functional.

 

6. Who are your role models?

I have many role models: Elon Musk, Beyoncé, Steve Jobs, Kanye West, Duke Ellington, Kamala Harris, Elaine Welteroth, Jony Ive, and my grandma.

7. You are a major in journalism and currently working at ABC, describe a day in the life for Jocelyn Woods.

Since May, I have been working at ABC7. Every morning, I wake up, stretch, check the news and start my day. It usually consists of a few classes, gym time, a club meeting or lunch with a friend, then I am off to ABC7 in Glendale. My hours are during the evening shift in news; I am there from 3:00pm to midnight. I’ll start at the assignment desk, calling police stations, taking tips, and finding the pool of possible stories for reporters. Then, I will go out into the field with a photographer, interview people, and put together that footage into a segment of the 11 o’clock show. It keeps me on my feet every day!

 

8. I just saw you at the Disney RDMA’s, what happened?

At this year’s Radio Disney Music Award, I received a Heroes for Change Award, which honors recipients who make a difference in their communities with volunteering, charity and passion. It was an incredible honor to receive the Heroes for Change Award, and be able to share my story with the millions that watched it.

 9. What do you love to do for fun? Any favorite spots in LA?
In my free time, you’ll find me either at an art museum, pop up shop, Zagat rated restaurant, or hiking somewhere with a beautiful sunset. I love trying new things and new places, but some of my favorite Friday nights have been spent with brunch at Dinette, an afternoon at The Broad and an evening concert at one of Sofar’s secret locations.
10. What’s next for Jocelyn Woods?
I am currently a multimedia journalist, programmer, and creative storyteller with a strong passion for social good and helping others find their voice and tell their story. But this is only one stage of my life. I am so passionate about many different sectors of life, which is atypical to a normal career plan, but I feel that I have many different stages in my life. It is as if I lived in five different parallel universes, and each one held a different career path or life calling: journalist, techie, filmmaker, social entrepreneur, and senator. So, you will see all of the above from Jocelyn Woods. Stay tuned.

 

 
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