“What do you want to do when you grow up?”
Jai’auna Jefferson recalled being asked that question in elementary school and realizing even then she would need a college degree, whether she pursued her childhood love of animals and became a veterinarian or worked in psychology
Utah Jazz Scholars by the Numbers
students selected for
the 2021–22 Academic Year
Gabriela Rosas Calderon
scholars coming to
Weber State in fall 2022
Estrella Chavez Fernandez
Now a sophomore at Weber State, Jefferson is on her way toward earning that degree, and one thing she doesn’t have to worry about is how to pay for college.
She is one of four Weber State students, and 30 statewide, who were part of an inaugural cohort that received a full-ride scholarship, courtesy of the Utah Jazz. Salt Lake City’s NBA franchise established the scholarship in 2020 as a way to help students from traditionally underrepresented groups pursue their educational goals.
At Weber State, Jefferson is exploring her interest in social relationships and institutions as a sociology major, and plans to eventually become a professor. Based on her love of animals, she’s also interested in becoming a dog breeder. Her two favorite breeds are poodles and havaneses.
Ironically, Jefferson has never been a Jazz fan. By her own admission, she’s more of a “football girl.” Beginning in eighth grade, she served as the team manager for her high school football team. “I’m not much of a sports girl, but I do like attending games in person.”
Ultimately, Jefferson hopes her education will allow her to help people.
“The idea of helping others makes me happy,” she said. “Plus, if there’s dogs along the way, that never hurts.”