This column was part of the cover feature about the Eilers family that appears in the February issue of Centerville-Washington Neighbors Magazine. The magazine is mailed monthly to 3,661 homes across the community and is not published online, so I am including this column by Jade Eilers here so everyone can read it! Photos are by Ashley Mauro Photography.
By Jade Eilers
Life can seemingly change in an instant, which is why it’s wise to embrace the simple pleasures. Though I’m just 17 and a high school senior, I’ve learned that this year, just like many of you reading this story.
This year has felt like a gap year. It’s challenging to not know what’s coming next. As a senior, will I have a prom? What about a graduation ceremony? I feel like my high school years ended some random day in March last year. I want to experience the “rite of passage” activities that define high school. Will I get that chance? Striving for optimism is the best way to thrive amid chaos.
Some days I struggle to see the light, but then I take some time to be grateful for the things that I do have. So many people are scrambling for their next meal or money for rent. When I think about that, worrying about senior prom almost sounds silly. There’s always something good in every situation; and if I can’t see it, I’m not looking hard enough.
I was crowned Miss Ohio High School America 2020, frequently perform onstage in the theater, and serve as a national advocate for teenagers to lead drug-free lives.
I’m a highly visible figure behind BOLD & BRAVE (Building Our Lives Drug-free & Building Respect And Values for Everyone). My drug-free activism has given me the privilege to share my testimony during the Ohio Youth Led Prevention Network’s “We are the Majority” rally at the Ohio Statehouse and address the United Nations (UN), among other honors.
I am now Miss Dayton Teen USA 2021 and will compete later this year for the title of Miss Ohio Teen USA to advocate for girl power, healthy living, and drug prevention.
I’m grateful for it all; and my mother, Alisha Eilers, has given me the confidence to believe what is possible.
My mother and I moved to Centerville almost 10 years ago. She remarried in 2017, to Mike Eilers, and I took his last name. Growing up with a single mother for 10 years, I feel that my mom is a superhero. She earned her degree in engineering and worked in male-dominated jobs. She didn’t complain that she was the only woman in her role or that life wasn’t fair. Instead, she instilled in me the belief that I am capable of whatever I set my mind to achieve.
I haven’t seen my biological father since I was 3, because of his drug addiction. That is why I am so motivated and passionate about living a drug-free life. I chose to turn pain into purpose when I was a freshman. I started making videos on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube that shared my story and encouraged teens to sign a pledge to live drug-free and treat others with kindness.
Advocacy gives my life a sense of purpose and meaning. I’ve spent the majority of my high school years advocating for drug prevention, in hopes of preventing future children from experiencing the negative feelings that I had growing up, due to someone else’s addiction.
This year I’ve started to learn how to cook and have been documenting my healthy (and not so healthy) recipes through social media. I recommend the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies!
With the switch to digital school and the lack of extracurricular activities, I work part-time at a restaurant. I’ve applied to colleges and for scholarships. My first choice is to attend Butler University. I’ve also applied to Boston University, Northern Kentucky University, The Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati and Vanderbilt University.
Pageants and acting have given me outlets for public speaking, being in front of a camera, and personal development. Right now I’m deciding between public relations and broadcast journalism as a major. Social media has given me an outlet to influence others on important matters like drug prevention.
My mom’s life experience provides perspective because at my age she was living on her own, working three jobs, and paying her own way for everything, because she was orphaned. She’s a hard worker; that’s inspired me to be the same and seek out opportunities for my future.
If you spend too much time focused on the negative, pessimism can consume you. We all have the choice to hold on to optimism and hope.