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Turning Adversity Into Opportunity

JACQUELINE BOHRER, 18
High School: New Roads School
College: UC Berkeley 

When she was 16, Jacqueline Bohrer was misdiagnosed with depression and sent to a residential treatment center in Utah. Three months later, doctors diagnosed her with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and released her. But the trauma she sustained changed her life.

“For the first time in my life, being stuck and not having the liberty to make my own decisions, even being able to go to the bathroom by myself, I manifested the desire to live and do more and be better and live as the best version of myself,” Bohrer told the Journal. “The pact I made with God when I would pray every night [was] if I get the chance to go home and be back at my school and be a teenage girl, I will completely reinvent the way I look at the world and myself and be the best at everything I do for myself.”

Bohrer has lived up to her promise. As a member of New Roads School’s debate team, she has spoken about her experiences at the treatment center, delivering a speech at tournaments about teen mental health issues. She subsequently became the first New Roads student to advance to the championship round of the state finals. The most rewarding part of the experience, she said, was receiving feedback from those who related to her story.

“It was overwhelming. I had one judge at one of the lower-level tournaments come up to me in tears and say they had been struggling with their daughter and been talking to educational consultants about sending her away,” she said. “My speech convinced her to seek an alternative.”

“For the first time in my life, being stuck and not having the liberty to make my own decisions, even being able to go to the bathroom by myself, I manifested the desire to live and do more and be better and live as the best version of myself,”

Additionally, during her junior year, Bohrer created an independent study project focused on electroencephalograms, which monitor electrical activity in the brain. This year, her independent study examined the negative portrayals of her Generation Z peers.

“I think as a generation we need to be able to have a little more of a herd mentality and lift ourselves up to lift each other up,” she said. “Just having to go through what I’ve gone through both emotionally and physically, I think my responsibility is to spread that message.” 

The daughter of an Israeli cinematographer father who was raised on a kibbutz and a Catholic mother, Bohrer was brought up with little religion. Asked about Jewish values, she said her father instilled in her the importance of honesty and trustworthiness, adding she inherited his love for photography. Bohrer runs her own website featuring portraits, landscapes, concert photography and experimental images. 

This fall, she is headed to UC Berkeley, where she will study neuropsychiatry and compete on the school’s equestrian team, having spent much of her youth honing her skills at dressage. 

Bohrer is excited to be heading to college. “New Roads is small and very liberal, and I have loved it and it has been an amazing experience, but going out and being with the best of the best, the most competitive people who are attacking what they want to do every day, that environment is what I am most excited to be a part of,” she said. “Being able to fight for my place there, I think, is going to be an incredible experience.”


Keep on reading about our 2019 Outstanding Seniors here.

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