Jaida Sloan always had an interest in and dedication to public policy and activism, stemming from her experiences on the debate team at high school. When it came time to graduate, her mind was set on the Public Administration program at UTSA. As a second-generation UTSA student, she wanted to carry on the tradition established by her mother.
Of course, her situation was a little different – because Sloan graduated high school at 16. Now, as a UTSA graduate at 20 years old, she is planning to attend law school with a full scholarship in hand.
A young prodigy? Maybe – but Sloan dismisses that idea. “I like to say that I’m not like the smartest person in the room, but I am highly productive and I like to get things done early,” she said. “I think that my education at UTSA definitely prepared me for the environment that I’m about to enter.”
Sloan came to UTSA as the inaugural recipient of the Henry B. Gonzalez Scholarship. Based on academic excellence and financial need, the scholarship is for students pursuing public administration or criminal justice. Sloan was able to meet Charlie Gonzalez shortly after enrolling, and since then he has served as a mentor as she makes her way through to law school.
During her time at UTSA, Sloan joined the Public Administration Student Organization (PASO) and worked her way up to treasurer. In addition, she joined the staff of the Paisano and became assistant news editor. Not one to be content with that, she also joined student government and is the downtown affairs chair as well as a second-term senator representing HCaP.
Juggling all of the extracurriculars as well as a demanding course load is not daunting to Sloan – she maintains that organization and efficiency are the keys to getting it all done. That organization was key when it came time for her to begin applying to law schools.
Sloan’s interest in law began during her Administrative Law course with Professor Francine Romero, and accelerated during her internship with Judge Norma Gonzales in Bexar county. “Charlie Gonzalez really helped facilitate that internship for me,” Sloan said. “I had always been interested in the public sector, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to help and pursue it until I had those experiences.”
Gonzalez was not her only mentor to guide her through her studies. Sloan is quick to credit Romero with her ability to get through the program. “Dr. Romero was an amazing mentor and I can’t thank her enough for all she’s done for me,” Sloan said.
“Jaida is clearly motivated to learn, especially about the law, so she is such a pleasure to have in class,” Romero said. “She has always asked really pertinent questions and is able to help other students become interested in ideas. We are so proud of her heading off to law school and I know that with her passion and commitment she is going to make a mark.”
As she prepares to move to Boston to begin her law school studies, Sloan offers several pieces of advice for those wanting to follow a similar path. “Form strong relationships with your professors,” she said. “Take classes that will help inform your knowledge of law; and lastly, I would recommend joining the Paisano, because writing is a skill all graduate programs look for.”
While it is easy to be impressed by all Sloan has accomplished at a young age, she remains humble and gives credit to those she’s met along the way – and gives most to the woman who first inspired her to attend UTSA.
“I was raised by a single mother, and her strength and perseverance really shaped who I am and my dedication to my own education,” Sloan said. “I got to see her spend 10 years pursuing her degree because she was going to school part time. Seeing her strength and perseverance really informed my perspective and my promise to myself to pursue education and never have any excuses.”