Dr. Jaquelin Kohlasch has been in New Mexico for about 35 years. She moved to the state from California but is originally from Maryland.
Kohlasch says that her past experiences have motivated her today to continue her learning. When she moved to California, Kohlasch found herself homeless and in a domestic violence shelter. That experience taught her about the importance of choosing your friends.
“At the same time, people helped me when I was out there, and when I came to New Mexico, people continued to help me, and they gave me an opportunity to go work for the state for 29 years as a tax auditor,” says Kohlasch. She now works as a tax analyst for the New Mexico legislature.
She enjoys helping her community by volunteering her time with the Order of Eastern Star, Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church, and is a long-term care ombudsman. Each month, she helps Faith Tabernacle Baptist prepare their food boxes for people in need.
She says the best advice her mother gave her was to continue to learn. “Even if you fail, you can pick yourself up and continue to move forward.” She was homeless, down and low self-esteem, but since she moved forward she was given better opportunities, and in 2017, Kohlasch was able to finish her doctorate degree.
When asked if she was given the chance to start over, knowing what she knows now, what she would do differently, Kohlasch says she doesn’t think there’s much she would do differently. “If I hadn’t gone through a lot of these experiences that I’ve been through, I probably would not have grown as much as I have. And it has taught me never to look down on nobody because you never know where they came from and where they’re going.”