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By Jordan Mahoney

On Aug. 3, 1999, it’s a clear night, and Ashley Shields is nine months pregnant. She is sitting on the couch watching “Jerry Springer” when she gets a strong pain in her stomach. Ashley just thinks it’s her baby kicking, so she carries on eating her bowl of cherries. The pain  worsens. It isn’t until later while getting ready for bed that she realizes she is in labor. At age 21, Ashley Shields gives birth to Jennifer Lauren Shields the next day.

Today, Jennifer Shields is a young woman looking for something new and to expand her horizons. She likes to stay to herself and observe other people. She is heading to the 12th grade at Clinton High School but is only 16 years old. Shields lives in Clinton with her mother, younger brother and her two dogs, Old Man and Tiko. As an older sister, she has learned how to be more mature and responsible.

“Being the older sibling definitely helps you handle other people, who may not be as mature as you are,” she says.

Shields’ hobbies are reading and watching Netflix. She loves reading because she says she can lose herself in the pages of the book. She also loves that reading makes her feel as though she is the character in the story. She has not fully decided on a career path, but she is exploring microbiology and becoming a veterinary physician. She does know that she wants to help people and make a difference in any way she can.

Her mother has influenced her tremendously and has helped her through many situations. ”My mom is my biggest support system; she makes sure we go to church and helps guide us,” Shields says. 

While a freshman in college and with a young child, it was difficult and exhausting for Ashley Shields. Growing up with a single mother, her daughter’s main goal now is to make her mother proud.

As a young woman heading to adulthood, Shields now struggles with growing up. She often catches herself procrastinating and finds it hard to balance different activities. “I have a hard time balancing … and not putting too much on my plate,” she says.

Shields plans to go to Japan one day. She also loves the Cherry Blossoms in Anime. 

She likes the capital city, and is enjoying seeing artwork downtown while she trains with the Youth Media Project, such as on the traffic-signal boxes on many street corners.

“Jackson Is a good city,” she says.