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From Homelessness to Hope: Former Army soldier finds help through Georgia Southern’s Military Resource Center

 “I’ll be 34 in June, and I’ve never gotten this much assistance in my entire life.”

Jasarah Boynton, a psychology student from Jacksonville, Florida, walking at commencement this May, spent a large part of her life moving from couch to couch, to friends and relatives and homeless shelters. She never imagined a college degree could be in her future, but after years of struggle, she found help and hope at Georgia Southern University.

Born to a drug addict who struggled to stay clean, Boynton’s childhood was filled with trials and obstacles and constant change, never settling in one place for long.

She didn’t meet her dad until she was 12, and was handed off to him when her mother abandoned her at 13. Under his roof, she was made to study and graduate high school, but he threw her out at 18.

Boynton dreamed of college and went for a year, but obstacles kept getting in her way. First, an abusive relationship and later, more shockingly, the death of her brother in 2014 from heart disease.

“When my brother died so suddenly, I dropped out of life,” said Boynton. “I couldn’t verbalize the words that he died. The words just wouldn’t come out of my mouth.” 

With so many obstacles to her college dreams, Boynton decided to get her commercial license and start driving. She drove a school bus, then a recycle truck, a dump truck, a city bus and a Greyhound bus. But driving wouldn’t get her where she wanted to go.

“I can always get money hauling people or dirt, but what kind of future is that?” she said.

It wasn’t until she’d served for years in the Army that Boynton thought about college again. After her honorable discharge, she was sitting at her boyfriend’s house in Sylvania, Georgia, when she saw an ad for Georgia Southern military-related students.

“I thought, ‘I would love for that to be me,’” she said. “I would daydream about finishing my degree, but it just didn’t seem…it seemed so unrealistic for some reason. But I kept researching their psychology degree.”

Her research led her to the Military Resource Center (MRC) at Georgia Southern, where she met Col. George Fredrick (Ret.), director of Military and Veteran Services, and Cameron Jones, veteran project coordinator, who gave the encouragement and help she needed to take the next step.

“I came up to the school, I looked up psychology programs and it looked like a good campus,” said Boyton. “Everybody helped me, and I got enrolled in 2020.”

With her dream of going back to school finally realized, Boynton was still carrying remnants of her old life, repeating bad relationships. Feeling like she was close to a breakdown, she had to get away.

“I felt like I needed peace,” said Boynton. “So I ended up sleeping in my car that night. It was so peaceful, so I slept in the car another night and a third. So the fourth day I woke up and drove to the class parking lot and finally talked to my friend who’s still in the military. I was telling her everything. Of course, the time ran over and I missed my first class.”

Boynton went in to tell her professor that she felt bad missing his class. 

“I told him, ‘I’m going through a lot,’” she said. “The professor said, ‘You know, the Military Resource Center here might help with something like that.’ I never thought I could go to Col. Fred or Mr. Cameron about what I was dealing with!”

Boynton went to the MRC to see Jones and Fredrick. She told them what had happened and they took it from there. They put Boynton in a hotel until they could get her into the apartment where she still resides today.

“I can walk to school,” explained Boynton. “When I had car problems, the Military Resource Center came to the rescue.”

Later on, when Boynton started working at the MRC, Frederick began to notice how she talked to people about how the services had changed her life. He decided that others had to know about her, too.

Fredrick asked Boynton to be his guest at a meeting of the Regents of the University System of Georgia in Atlanta. Her job that day was to tell her story of how her life was turned around by the services offered by the MRC.

“I’ll be honest, I didn’t know anything, I didn’t know what the Board of Regents was,” said Boynton. “I didn’t know what a big deal it was. I was like, wow, these are the presidents of everything in Georgia. It was a great honor to be invited to tell my story.”

Boynton said that before she started utilizing the MRC, she was tired of not getting anywhere. She felt like she didn’t have anything to show for all she had done. She was struggling, but no one was helping her. But, about three years ago, when she needed someone, the MRC was there to help.

“That is why Col. Fred had me speak to the Regents. Because I’m very much willing to share my story with anybody.”

Boynton’s story didn’t end when she walked across the stage at Paulson Stadium to receive her degree in psychology. 

She has been employed at the MRC since last summer and Fredrick offers her advice daily. When she told him she was thinking about graduate school, he advised her to talk to some professors. She did, and applied for a very competitive program. Out of 200 applicants only about 20 get accepted. 

“I was so thrilled I started crying when I got in,” said Boynton. “So in 2026, I’ll be walking across that same stage with my master’s of education in school counseling.”

She also received a graduate assistantship and will work at the MRC, continuing to help those the way she had been helped.

Giving hope to those who, like herself, need it most.


Posted in Graduate Stories, Press Releases