Tiaa Mason is a firm believer in the concept of ‘paying it forward.’
Seventeen years ago, Tiaa came to Jackson-Field from another residential program. Struggling with depression and the aftereffects of physical abuse, Tiaa was guarded, withdrawn, and skeptical about her future. Because she had anger management issues, Tiaa’s therapists focused much of their attention on teaching her ways to recognize, control, and redirect her thoughts when she felt provoked. At the time, Tiaa – like many teens – neither appreciated nor valued these exercises or any of the other clinical services she received.
Over time, though, Tiaa’s outlook changed. She came to treasure her experiences at Jackson-Feild and has fond memories of activities and outings. “I especially,” she reports, “enjoyed Christmas and the sense of ‘family’ that came with it.” Tiaa even developed trusting relationships with several staff members and remains in touch with them.
Like many children aging out of Jackson-Feild, Tiaa wanted to live on her own rather than return home. She quickly found herself alone, on the streets, and needing help. Thanks to the grace of God, Tiaa met her guardian angel – a kind school teacher – who took her in and became her surrogate mother. With her angel’s encouragement, Tiaa enrolled in Grand Canyon University and earned her undergraduate degree in psychology.
Today Tiaa is married and living in Minot ND where she and her husband are raising two young daughters. Working as a youth counselor at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, Tiaa says, “I found my dream job! I’m working with children who struggled just like I did, and my goal is to help them as much as my Jackson-Feild therapists and counselors helped me.” Tiaa also reports that she plans to pursue her master’s degree at Minot State University and become a licensed clinical therapist.
Seventeen years after arriving at Jackson-Feild, Tiaa is paying it forward as she helps children coping with mental illness.
“I want to thank Jackson-Feild’s supporters for digging deep and giving their financial support. I can’t thank them enough. It’s because of them that I’m here and helping others.”