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Jaylani Henderson

Arnold Castillo

Jaylani Henderson’s path to success started with a rather simple revelation: She learned to invest and believe in herself.

After spending most of her life helping others who didn’t always have her best interests in mind, the Cranston, RI, resident earned her associate degree in General Studies at the Community College of Rhode Island and transferred to the University of Rhode Island to study psychology, using her childhood experiences to rescue those drowning in their own self-doubt.

“I am choosing me first,” Henderson said. “That’s the one thing that gave me courage and it will give them the courage, too. You have to realize, ‘I am worth something.’ It all comes down to self-respect.”

At age 4, she left New York with her mother and older sister and moved to Rhode Island to escape the physical and mental abuse of her father. After high school, she moved to Ohio to live with a family member, but the living arrangements soured and she found herself depressed, unable to escape what seemed like an endless cycle of abuse.

At 25, Henderson returned to CCRI intent on finishing her education. She realized she wanted to help others who endured similar pain, but first needed to help herself. With assistance from CCRI’s personal counseling program, doctors diagnosed Henderson with post-traumatic stress disorder. The clarity allowed her to thrive at CCRI. With a greater sense of self-worth, she can now focus on helping others. She wants to counsel children, initiate charities and write books, using her life story to guide others down the right path. CCRI paved the way.

“They provide you with everything you need to succeed,” Henderson said. “They have so many resources. Use them. I was one of the ones who did, otherwise I would’ve never sought help for my mental health.”

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