Jackie Mclaughlin surrounds herself with supportive people as she steps further into her future


Junior Jackie Mclaughlin makes sure to find time for the activities and people she loves as she navigates the hectic years of high school and finds a possible future career.

Church has played a large part in Jackie’s life, and her already strong bonds with the people in it continue to grow and develop as time passes. As her family has always been heavily involved with the church, it came as no surprise when Jackie joined her current church group after watching her older siblings taking part in activities with their own.

“[The church group] is a really good group to be a part of because everyone’s really supportive and wants to help you grow,” Jackie said.

For Jackie, spending time with her church group brings a sense of balance to her life after a frenzied day in the life of a high school student. The group shows support for one another but also holds each other accountable for what they need to get done. To make sure everyone stays on task, each group member has an accountability partner; Jackie’s is fellow junior Susannah Bennett.

“Right now, we’re reading The Case for Christ together, and once a week, [Susannah and I] text each other and say, “Hey, did you do the reading?a�� and ask each other questions,” Jackie said. “Just reading the book together helps you learn more about Christianity and grow in your own faith. Having an accountability partner keeps you focused.”

Within the church group, people are also broken off into smaller groups with two group leaders. Jackie expresses her gratefulness towards her small group leaders because she feels comfortable in texting them whenever she wants or feels the need to do so for prayer requests or anything on her mind.

“It’s really nice because it’s good to have an outside opinion, especially from an adult, and they’re good mentors,” Jackie said.

With her church group, Jackie spends a lot of time participating in a range of things from volunteer opportunities downtown at UYCM with kids to going on retreats over the weekends at someone’s cottage or a campground.

This coming summer, however, they are taking a bit more time to travel to the campus of University of Tennessee for a conference called CHIC (Covenant High In Christ) with thousands of other students. This particular conference is for young people to grow closer in their relationship with God through fun activities and worship via concerts every night.

Many kids come back from the trip with the feeling that their life has changed with new friends and a stronger faith in their religion. This is what Jackie most looks forward to experiencing on the upcoming trip.

“I hope to grow in my relationship with Christ, meet new people, and maybe keep in touch with them through college,” Jackie said, “and, [I hope] to just have fun.”

As Jackie looks towards life after high school and even college, she sees herself spending a few more years as a student in law school.

Her interest in the topic has come after a summer internship for a nonprofit organization downtown. There, she spent one day a week in a courtroom observing cases. The internship was through the church. Because she was not legally qualified to do much of what she observed, Jackie was mostly given the task of office work.

“I didn’t actually get to do anything, but I got to sit [in court] and watch [trials] which was fun,” Jackie said.

Since the internship, Jackie’s fascination toward the subject has grown exponentially. She has contemplated studying international law in the future because she wants to go overseas and help represent people who aren’t able to afford an expensive lawyer.

She has also considered becoming a defense attorney. Jackie reasoned that she feels prosecution attorneys win most of their cases because many of the current defense attorneys aren’t as concerned with their client’s interests as they should be– whether the defendant is guilty or not.

“I want to go into law because I’m pretty organized and hard-working, so I wouldn’t mind all the reading and writing part of it,” Jackie said, “and you’re still making an impact and trying to make someone’s life better. I would hate when terrible injustices occur.”

New to her life this school year is HOSA. Jackie had originally joined the club under the influence of her friends, but she has come to enjoy the event she’s participating in, which is medical law and ethics. The event gives some insight about law firms that specialize in malpractice, which is a majority of what medical law is, as well as ethical issues such as abortion.

“I signed up for HOSA because my friends were in it,” Jackie said. “[Medical law and ethics] was the only event that wasn’t medical, but I got really interested in it after I signed up [for the event].”

Her event consists of a multiple choice test and an essay; however, the essay portion mainly serves as the tiebreaker. For the regional competition held in December, Jackie qualified for the state competition which will be held in March over the course of two days.

“[What] interested me was the process [lawyers] had to go through to get everything done,” Jackie said. “There’s a lot of the process that I didn’t realize went on. There are all these associations you have to go through and fill out forms for. I never really thought about the administration in the hospital or if they had anything to do with it.”

At her current point in her life, Jackie has a lot of her future ahead of her and within reach, which she said she owes to the people in her life.

“My parents have helped me find out who I am, and going to church [has helped me] because I find a lot of identity there as a Christian,” Jackie said.