Stephens advocates for others

Jaela Stephens is a social work major at FAMU. Photo courtesy: Stephens

We spend our lives looking for our purpose in this world, but sometimes it isn’t the what, it’s the now that leads us to the big answer.

Jaela De’Nae Stephens, a friend to many, may not know her purpose just yet. But each day she gets closer to it by just being a light to those around her.

Stephens, a Denver native and third-year social work student at Florida A&M University, has lived a life full of love and enlightenment to those around her. With two little sisters looking up to her as a source for her motivation, Stephens is always offering a helping hand or lending an ear to anyone she encounters.

“It really helped me realize, who is Jaela as a person and what is Jaela’s purpose in life? Sitting down, reflecting, meditating, and being in my word has helped me realize it’s OK to not know my purpose, but it’s not OK to not do anything about it,” Stephens said. “That’s where I’m at right now.”

Stephens shows this same love and dedication with her startup brand, BLCK&WELL. It is a Black-owned organization that caters to the mental health of Black people who are often neglected today. It is a space where young and adolescent groups are supported and given tools to demonstrate healthy ways to promote self-therapy.

“Life always goes on,” she said. “Something can happen. Someone could die, your car could break down, anything can happen, and life is still going to go on. You still have to pay rent and put food in your stomach, so I feel like if you don’t take the time to take care of yourself, you’re going to end up neglecting yourself. You’re the only person you’ve got for the rest of your life.”

Inspired by her own struggles with mental health, Stephens aims to extend her philosophy, “Be Good. Do Good. Look Good.”

Maya Johnson, a third-year philosophy student from Broward County, credits the positive impact Stephens has had on her college career.

“Sometimes I feel like if I didn’t meet Jaela I don’t know who I would be friends with at school, because Jaela introduced me to others around her,” Johnson said. “She’s had a pretty big impact on my college experience for the most part.”

Stephens has always had a passion for advocating for others and bringing people together. She strengthens and focuses on these goals with her desire to work in law and her affiliation with the Big Sister Little Sister organization at FAMU, promoting and advocating for all through sisterhood, network and service.

“She’s just a person who is unapologetic and so confident in who she is. She shows me I can be who I am,” Brooke Whitted, a second-year business administration student, said.

“She’s very independent and strong minded,” Johnson said. “But she’s funny and she does have a big heart. She really cares about people.”

Whether you’ve known her for a month or two years, Stephens extends her warmth and confidence that easily begins to rub off on you too.