May 24, 2012 in Washington Voices

Getting back on track

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Colin Mulvany photoBuy this photo

In addition to earning his diploma through Contract Based Education, Jamal Davis works at A to Z Rentals.
(Full-size photo)

When Cheryl Kettrick first encountered Jamal Davis, now a senior in West Valley School District’s Contract Based Education program two years ago, it was at Abstemious, an out-patient drug and alcohol treatment center in Spokane.

“I immediately thought that here was a wonderful person who needed some help,” said Kettrick, owner of A to Z Rentals in Spokane.

Davis said he did indeed need help, and that he is grateful Kettrick and others have taken a chance on him: Together with his own resolve to turn his life around, they helped put him on the path to a good and solid future.

The Seattle native moved to Spokane a number of years ago to live with his mother. Although active in sports earlier in school – wrestling, track, football, basketball and soccer – he began drinking, smoking marijuana and hanging out in all the wrong places and with all the wrong people while in the Seattle area. On this side of the state, things didn’t change much and he sold marijuana to make money and continued drinking.

Then he got into serious legal trouble, robbing a man during a drug deal in Post Falls. Davis received nine months in jail and has been on probation for two years and has another three to go.

The future did not look good for this quiet and reserved young man. While he was in jail, he earned his GED, “but I really wanted to earn a high school diploma. It’s a better thing to have than a GED,” he said.

Upon returning to Spokane in January 2010, he decided to make major changes in his life, beginning by enrolling at CBE, and has been on an upswing ever since.Not that it’s been easy. Davis lives on his own. Kettrick knew he needed to be able to support himself, so she hired him at A to Z, where he has turned out to be a stellar, hard-working employee who consistently helps others learn the ropes, she said.

Between full-time work at A to Z and school, Davis’s life is busy and focused, with little time for distraction. “That’s pretty much all I do,” he said, “work and go to school.” He does still manage to get in some freestyle wrestling through the Pig-Dog Wrestling program at University High School.

“There was a time when it appeared there was little chance that Jamal would graduate, that he would succeed,” said CBE adviser Mike Williams. “But he made the choice to take a different course, to come back to school. He persevered and stuck with it. I can’t tell you how well-liked he is by our staff. We’re all pulling for him, especially knowing he’s gone through so much.”

But after he graduates this spring, Davis may not be done with schooling and self-improvement. He’s hoping to attend Spokane Community College and study auto mechanics.

Looking back on everything that’s transpired in his life, Davis reflects that he’s “learned to think before I act, to think of the consequences of what I do and not to do anything ever that can mess you up.”

Speaking of her young employee, Kettrick adds: “He’s one of the people in this world who deserved a second chance, and I’m so glad he got it and did right by it.”

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