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Coming Full Circle

Jeremiah Program alum Nekey Oliver reflects on her JP journey — from her time as a JP mom to advocating for moms as a community board member.

When Jeremiah Program alum Nekey Oliver graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2012, she planned to work in a field that helped youth. Today, the mother of three, inaugural JP Alumni Fellow, and JP Minneapolis-St. Paul community board member is the Director of Government Relations and Community Engagement for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

Here, she looks back on her experience and appreciates how life has brought her back to JP. In many ways, she never left.

When I first joined Jeremiah Program, I was in dire need of a support system that my own family was unable to provide. Becoming a parent at a young age was unexpected and forced me to deviate from the path I had envisioned for myself. After being told family housing had a three-year waitlist, I learned about JP from a student in the University of MN’s Student Parent Help Center. The program not only offered me housing and a safe space for both me and my child but also became a sanctuary where we felt valued and supported.

One of my biggest takeaways during my time at JP was learning the true power of community. I was introduced to organizations and individuals whom I may have never crossed paths with otherwise. For example, I was connected to the founder of Evereve, formerly known as Hot Mama, to begin a mentoring relationship. She is now an amazing friend who has taught me the importance of true kindness and that everyone has a lesson to teach. The women I had the privilege of meeting have become like a second family to me. In fact, I am now the godmother to one of their children. Even after leaving the program, my son often expresses how much he misses being there, which is a testament to JP’s profound impact on both of us. These connections have further enriched my life and provided me with numerous opportunities to continue growing both personally and professionally.

Today, I proudly hold the position of one of the youngest directors at a state agency, and I attribute a significant portion of my success to the opportunities and experiences JP afforded me. The program equipped me with the necessary tools, guidance, and unwavering support to excel in my career and become a respected leader in my field.

The resources and support system JP provided were instrumental in helping me realize my dreams.

And now, my journey with JP has come full circle. In 2021, I got the extraordinary opportunity to serve on the JP Minneapolis-St. Paul Community Board of Trustees, a position I’m honored to still hold. This role allows me to contribute my voice and share my experiences as a mom and JP alum, inspiring and supporting other moms in the program. I’m proud to advocate for those who are often misunderstood but undoubtedly deserving of support.

When I think about it, the resources and support system JP provided were instrumental in helping me realize my dreams and the importance of taking a pause, reflecting, and appreciating every moment — whether good or bad. Each experience has shaped me and brought me to where I am today.

I am forever grateful for the profound impact JP continues to have on my life. The program has armed me with the tools to enhance who I am as an individual and create a better future not just for myself but for my family and children as well. The program instilled in me the belief that with the right support and determination, no dream is out of reach.

Find this story and more in our new magazine, Imagine!

The power of Jeremiah Program moms over 25 years. That’s what we’re thinking about as we celebrate more than two decades of relationship-building, growth, sisterhood, community, and leadership — and that’s what you’ll read reflected in our Annual Report Magazine.

Learn how program alumni are shaping their communities and how their children, former JP kids, are doing as young adults. Find out how alumni are mentoring current JP moms. Imagine what can happen in a generation — and imagine what can happen in the next 25 years.

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