JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jovan Mills believes he was targeted when he was shot while walking to a school bus stop in September 2018 near Miss Muffet Lane on Jacksonville’s Westside.
Since that day, the now 18-year-old has graduated from Westside High School and was accepted into a college.
“It was a turning point," Mills said. "It made me want to grind and be more successful because you only get one life, and I don’t want to leave here knowing that I didn’t accomplish anything for me or my family.”
A school bus driver rushed him to safety, and Mills spent months recovering.
“I think about it all the time," Mills said. "If it was my time, I would have died. So, I mean, I’m still here, so it’s a reason for me being here.”
Before the shooting, Mills said he had friends in the wrong crowd. Several months ago, things changed when he met Westside High School Vice Principal Stephen Richardson during lunch period.
The pair instantly hit it off.
“The very first thing I asked Jovan was what was his plans? And Jovan started telling me about how he wanted a shoe company, and I said, ‘What are your intentions as far as college?’ And he said, ‘Well, you know, I can’t go to college,’" Richardson said.
Seeing potential in Mills, Richardson began mentoring the high school senior and taking him to church.
“I just started encouraging him, saying, make sure you hit this GPA mark, and that’s kind of where it started," Richardson said.
The hard work paid off, and Mills got accepted into Coastal Georgia College.
“Whats next for me?" Mills said. “I’m going to college to get my business degree and finance, so hopefully you’ll see me on the fly here or something like that, and I’ll have my own business.”
Mills said his advice to other students is to never give up and keep yourself motivated.