Age 20.
Attended Lee High School.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina forced Lynkoya and her family to move to Jacksonville from New Orleans when she was 14. For Lynkoya, the turbulence created in her life by that move lasted for years after the storm subsided.

Following her move to Jacksonville, she had no close friends to lean on when family tensions arose. JROTC was her main support network.

But when she couldn’t get the classes she needed to graduate on her schedule at school, she had to quit JROTC. Her grades plummeted. Meanwhile, she and her mother got in a big fight.

“The only people I could talk to were my instructors in ROTC,” she said. “ROTC is what kept my head up, what kept me in school, what kept me staying out of trouble, and when I didn’t have that any more I was in a downward spiral.”

Lynkoya left school and went back to New Orleans to live with her sister, where she got a job. She did well at work, but found out that she needed a diploma to advance.

“It doesn’t matter where you go, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, if you don’t have … a high school diploma you have to go and get one,” Lynkoya said.

She moved back to Jacksonville, where she was introduced to the New Town Success Zone. Today, that and other community organizations are helping Lynkoya get her GED while she works. She aspires to set a positive example for her young son and hopes to go on to college to get a degree in criminology.