DACC’s Jokerst keeps his eyes on the prize
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Alexander Jokerst’s senior year is going pretty well.
“There are a lot of changes I’ve made, and a lot still to come,” the Delaware Area Career Center senior said. He is transitioning from working to attain his Eagle Scout award, which involved building a chimney swift tower at a New Albany preserve, to working as assistant Scout master. Once Alexander turned 18, he had to give up his senior patrol leadership position.
He is also a student ambassador for the career center, speaking at area high schools about the programs offered by the DACC.
Alex is looking forward to achieving A-plus certification for computer repairs.
“I have a good feeling that I will pass,” he said. “It definitely will be good to have. That’s what businesses look for.”
Like all seniors, Alex looks forward to the future. Once he comes back from a summer job working in a photo lab at Philmont, the Boy Scout ranch in New Mexico, he plans to attend Columbus State Community College for two years studying computer science. Alex also hopes to minor in psychology and plans to enter the P3 Scholar program to transition to Ohio State University.
Alex hopes to climb the corporate ladder, beginning as a tech assistant and going on to become a chief information officer. He said he might also be a project manager.
“I’m good at ideas. I would be the start up guy, then move on,” he said.
Alex is considering going to Brazil in his third year of college to experience a different culture.
“I like to travel a lot,” he said, adding that he researched and chose Brazil due to its friendly climate.
Alex said when he first began high school he wasn’t sure what wanted to do. While in his freshman year, he thought about the health field. After considering history and psychology (an area he might still pursue), it was an information technology course he took his sophomore year that led him to look into the program at DACC.
“I liked the hands-on,” he said, adding he was glad he followed this path. “I have a lot of new friends. The field definitely clicked.
“And,” he smiled, “computer science pays.”
Along with the challenges facing other seniors, Alex has an additional one — autism. He speaks openly about it.
Up until age 3, he did not talk at all. Working with a therapist, he learned to speak and attended a special needs preschool. After that he was in the special education program in a regular school environment.
“I was really engaged in school, striving for excellence,” he said. He was nominated and received an award for excellence in the second grade. “Other teachers wanted to nominate me for the award (in other years), but you can only win it once.”
He continued to progress rapidly, and then, after the fifth grade, his autism began to diminish. Alex said there are only three areas which it is still noticeable — eye contact, facial expressions and his voice.
“But those are all minor,” he said, adding that results last year in an evaluation by a speech therapist were “incredulous.” He scored 120 where an average person would achieve a score of 90.
Alex said in those areas where the autism still is present it is 90 percent confidence based. He spoke of being bullied in middle school in addition to some teachers telling him he could not succeed, two things that preventing him from building up his self– confidence.
“But in the past year my confidence has increased,” he said, indicating that the career center’s student ambassador program has helped.
Alex said his parents have been supportive throughout.
“My mom is always on my side. She has supported me 100 percent no matter what,” he said.
This support has helped with the coursework and activities that Alex is involved in, including an advanced placement history class.
“To this day, it is the hardest test I ever took,” he said of the AP exam, admitting he did not pass. He added he was ill that day and was not allowed any special test considerations either.
Susannah Lee teaches English at Westerville Central High School.
“Alex is one of the kindest people I know. … That positive and generous approach to life is what defines him. His dedication and service even led him to earn an eagle scout. He is courageous and principled, and I feel grateful to have him in class,” she said.
“Alex is a fantastic student and individual! He is always willing to help others no matter what. Being selected Teen of the Week is a well-deserved honor,” Randy Moore, an IT Academy instructor at the DACC, said.
Alex ran track until an injury stopped him his sophomore year, but other activities keep him busy. He is a member of the National Honor Society at Westerville Central, a student ambassador and blogger for the career center, a member of the national technical honor society through DACC and a member of the Gay-Straight Alliance Organization.
He is also in the midst of competing with Business Professionals of America where he has already passed district and regional levels and is competing at the state level next week, a feat he is repeating from last year.
He was a technical assistant at Farmers Insurance, which he left in October, as he was working two jobs. He still works about 20 to 25 hours a week at Meijer.
“I am pretty busy,” he admitted, adding that he likes to be active.
He is looking forward to the competition next week and is also in charge of organizing an NHS book exchange at his home school.
“The goal is to promote literature and diversity,” he said. “It should be awesome.”
Alexander offers the following advice to others.
“Don’t choose the easy path, maybe not the hardest one either. Choose your own path. Do what you want,” he said.
Alexander is the son of Kate and Steve Jokerst of Westerville.