The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

Jackie Prager

Jackie Prager

Don’t let Jackie Prager’s size fool you.

She may be an introvert — and small — but Prager pushes herself. For instance, she has two black belts in kung fu — a fact that makes her parents feel a lot better about Prager attending college on her own. The skill could come in handy for another reason. Prager has always wanted to become a lawyer.

“My grandmother said they were superheroes who helped others. And, I loved superheroes,” Prager said of her childhood desire to be in a courtroom.

That desire has never waned. In fact, it has only become more specific. The 18-year-old will graduate from the College of San Mateo Middle College and head to the University of San Francisco to double major in English and psychology with a minor in legal studies. It’s all part of Prager’s plan to be a prosecutor working on cases concerning women’s and children’s rights.

Prager didn’t start out as a butt-kicking gal. As a little girl, she was very energetic and participated in a variety of activities like dancing, ice skating and gymnastics. After watching her younger brother in his kung fu classes, Prager enrolled while in fourth grade. In her sophomore year, she earned her first black bet. She earned her second in November.

During the day, Prager attended Baywood Elementary School for four years then transferred to Laurel Elementary School after being accepted into a GATE program. She attended Borel for one year, then her family moved to Davis for a year, and she returned to Borel Middle School. The family stayed put after that. Prager enrolled at Aragon High School and took choir classes — a way to explore her admiration for singing and push herself out of a fairly shy norm. Prager has also spent much of her time volunteering. She truly enjoys helping people and has given her time at the library, local senior center and in the classrooms of her previous teachers.

She applied to the Middle College program thinking it would be a better fit. Prager was right. Her parents weren’t sure of the choice at first. Prager was sold during the first semester when classes started a bit later. Her parents are happier now that she’s graduating with college credits. For a few classes, she’s starting college with a sophomore standing.

At University of San Francisco, Prager can use that as an opportunity to graduate early or spend more time in the study abroad program in London. She’s undecided which option will be her path. Before making any decisions, Prager plans to spend the summer traveling with her family and getting to know her new roommate.

The College of San Mateo Middle College’s graduation will be held 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 29.

Great Grads is in its seventh year profiling one graduating senior from each of our local schools. Schools have the option to participate. Those that choose to participate are asked to nominate one student who deserves recognition.