Future Vista Veteran has Already Fought Her Toughest Battle


Karson White, Voices of Vista Managing Director

On paper, Jessy Barbour is just like many of the extremely gifted Vista del Lago High School students; she is a member of choir, band, involved with theater and a lover of Vista’s visual and performing arts. However, after looking beneath the skin and listening to Jessy’s story, it becomes evident why she may very well be Vista’s strongest student.

Childhood for Jessy would not be classified as the stereotypical  “Folsom” experience. At a young age, her parents divorced and she found herself often times moving from place to place. After the divorce, matters only got worse and the challenges Jessy faced magnified. Following a debilitating back injury, Jessy’s mother had no other choice but to retire from her job as a police officer. Entering into a severe state of depression, her mother began struggling with alcoholism and developed an addiction to narcotics and meth amphetamines. Consequentially for Jessy, she was left idly watching her mother battle drug and alcohol addiction, facing the repercussions of it all.

Eventually Jessy moved away from her mother to the city of Folsom to live with her father and other relatives. A year passed before they spoke again, but their next conversation would be a wonderful surprise for the two.

Toward the end of her Freshman year, Jessy received a surprising Skype call from her mother with the good news that she had become sober and was ready to be the mother again that Jessy once knew and loved. The good news, unfortunately, would be only be a brisk but lingering memory for her.

A few months following, Jessy learned that her mother had been diagnosed with stage 4 terminal cancer, which had already spread to her liver, lungs, spine and cervix. The following months would be a bittersweet time of reconnection for the two.

Jessy came in to the Voices of Vista recording studio with her friend and fellow Vista student, Mary Joy Gilbert, to share the story of her childhood, including all of the trials, tragedies and how it has influenced her carrying forth her life.

In honor of her mother and her family’s long military lineage, Jessy has followed her vow to  join the armed forces, as she is enlisted in the Air Force and expects to be starting basic training in San Antonio, Texas, sometime in the following year. Today, on November 7, she turns 18, and on December 19th she will be a Vista del Lago High School graduate.
As her senior year reaches its end, Jessy leaves Vista with a valuable token: a story that bears a universal message the whole Vista  and Folsom community can benefit from. With the holidays approaching, let us remember to be grateful for the service of our veterans, police officers, firefighters and paramedics. Additionally, let us remember to look at the person passing by us in the hallway or at the grocery store with a gentle smile of optimism; after all, we never know their stories or what they have endured in their lifetime. The elderly fellow sitting next to you at the bus stop could be a 20 year veteran and war hero, and the quiet introverted girl sitting next to you could be someone like Jessy Barbour.

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Bumper music created by Andrew Sonico Eugenio courtesy of Vista’s Guitar Nation.
Interested in telling your own story for Voices of Vista? Contact Janice Johnson at [email protected] or Karson White at [email protected].