Jessica Janniere, Founder of the award winning personal development organization, Look Up and Beyond Inc., is committed to helping people overcome the pain of their past and current circumstances to live purpose-driven and fulfilling lives. By providing the specific tools needed to look up and beyond the adversity they've faced, along with hope from her own unique story, Jessica has inspired and transformed countless lives via workshops, conferences, keynote presentations and one-on-one coaching.
Here is the Middle School graduation picture of my younger sister Vicky. Vicky is a driving force behind everything I do today. My sister never had the opportunity to take her High School graduation picture or even celebrate her Sweet Sixteen birthday. Vicky and I were 3 years apart and very close. We were the best of friends. On that fateful day when I received the news that she was murdered, a piece of me was lost. To this day, I wonder about the type of woman she would have become.
Growing up, we were surrounded by abuse, dysfunction and poverty which played a strong part in shaping our decisions. During those years, I suffered from depression. I was at my lowest. I tried to numb my pain with alcohol and drugs instead of facing my life. I thought the only way to deal with my life was to end it so, as a teenager, I attempted suicide. And when I thought things could not get worse, I was raped. I was convinced my life was cursed and doomed for failure. I believed that if I were gone from the planet, so no one would care. I attempted suicide two more times. Vicky had her own way of dealing with the pain, including running away and surrounding herself with the wrong crowd.
Unfortunately, it cost her, her life.
I learned quickly how our environment and the people we choose to associate with can make or break us. After Vicky's death, life did not have the same meaning for me. But little by little something inside of me changed. While I was grieving I was doing some soul searching. I discovered a new determination to live life purposefully and to use Vicky's story as inspiration to rise above my negative past. Through a long journey of personal development and prayer I began working on myself and seeing myself differently. Then one day I experienced a transformational momment where I separated my identity from the negative situations I had been through. The idea, "What happened to me is not who I am" changed the trajectory of my life from that point forward.
I was finally able to look up and beyond the pain and negativity to create a new vision for my life. I was able to experience professional success, marry my best friend and raise three amazing children.
Sometimes we go through the most difficult experiences so that we can be a light to others who are experiencing similar darkness. In honor of my sister Vicky, I am on a mission to help people "Look Up and Beyond" their negative pasts, end the cycle of bad choices that can lead to tragedy, and create a future that is filled with purpose. Everyone, especially our youth, needs to know that despite their circumstances, they matter. Their voice matters. God has a purpose for them - and it is powerful.
Jessica Janniere is the author of "My Colored World" and the founder of Look Up and Beyond Inc. As a child abuse and rape survivor, Jessica is on a mission to help people to realize that negative past experiences do not equal a negative future regardless of the level of trauma they've faced.
Jessica is widely recognized as an expert in helping people (especially women and youth) overcome adversity. The New York State Assembly and Senate has recognized Jessica for raising awareness about, and improving the prevention of, suicide from individuals struggling with depression and emotional pain.
Her strategies have been so effective that she was awarded the prestigious "I Am Hope" Leadership Award, recognizing her ability to prevent human suffering. She has also been awarded the "Hope and Appreciation" Award by Opportunities and Change for helping women with mental health challenges. The New York City Council called Jessica a "Woman Who Makes a Difference."
Jessica has spoken to audiences ranging from 3 to 3,000 people, and she has shared the stage with celebrities like Ed Lover, one of MTV's most famous VJs. Jessica's work has been featured in numerous media outlets including the inspirational international magazine, Hope For Women. She has also been invited to appear as a guest expert on a variety of television shows to discuss overcoming past trauma.
Her dedication to helping people from all walks of life led her to her passion project of helping people during the darkest moments of their lives. Jessica has been on call 24/7 to help men and women who are most at risk for committing suicide.
One of her greatest passions is working and speaking with youth who have challenging backgrounds to help them realize there is more to life than what they see in front of them. Through her "Look Up and Beyond: Youth Initiative," Jessica organizes outings to take inner city youth beyond the walls of their neighborhoods, many for the first time, to experience firsthand the amazing opportunities that exist in life such as college, arts and culture.
Jessica is no stranger to success. She became one of the youngest Recreational Therapy Directors ever at a nursing home in New York City where she ensured that the elderly residents could live out the rest of their lives with passion, purpose and amazing quality of life. From there Jessica worked for one of the country's largest legal companies where she was one of the top recruiters and event planners for 10 years.
When Jessica isn't traveling the country to speak and her latest research, she can be found laughing with her family, riding the country's best roller coasters, completing adult coloring books and singing ... although she is still very shy about the last hobby :)