Annie George

Jenna Schoch said she has grown closer to God throughout her life.

Jenna Schoch studied her outfit as the start of the school day inched closer. It was a routine, as was what came next: the doubts.

Is this going to look okay? Are people going to look at me weird?

Those doubts wouldn’t stop as the day went on.

“Little things. Stupid stuff,” Jenna, senior, said. “Freshman year, I was really insecure and I constantly worried about people’s thoughts. [I] never made a decision completely by [myself]; I would always factor in what other people think. That can be really toxic.”

Jenna said she felt pressure to conform to what was popular throughout her freshman year. Then, over the summer she auditioned for Breakdown STL, an acting and mentoring organization dedicated to helping high schoolers make wise decisions about topics ranging from drugs to bullying. She said the people on the team helped shift her mindset.

“Everyone on the team is super vulnerable with each other,” Jenna said. “I could tell them literally anything and they would be like, ‘I still love you, how can I help you through this?’ That’s just a very refreshing environment, especially in today’s society where everyone tries to look good and let everyone know how they’ve got it all together.”

She said the Breakdown STL environment reduced her insecurities and allowed her to embrace who she is instead of who other people want her to be. Her sister, Leah Schoch, junior, said Jenna spreads the love she encountered there to all the people she meets.

My only goal in life is to please God. Through constantly stressing about what other people thought, I wasn’t serving Him, I was serving other people.”

— Jenna Schoch

“She knows if a decision is good or bad, but she doesn’t judge people for it,” Leah said. “If someone comes to her for advice, she’ll give them advice without judging what they’ve done.”

Jenna said this attitude stems from her Christian faith, which led her to love others as herself. This is visible to Matt Earnhart, Nipher Middle School math teacher and K-LIFE volunteer, who said Jenna lives out her faith wherever she goes.

“It’s rare to find kids who are passionate about their faith who aren’t conforming to the school narrative,” Earnhart said. “[The narrative of] ‘I’ll go to church on Sundays, I’ll say these are all the things I believe, but then I go and [my life] is not really a reflection of that.’”

Earnhart said he has seen her make conscious attempts to have a positive impact on others and bring them closer to God. Jenna said she now builds relationships with others while staying true to herself and her faith.

“I came to the realization that [God] didn’t create me to be someone who is constantly trying to please others,” Jenna said. “My only goal in life is to please God. Through constantly stressing about what other people thought, I wasn’t serving Him, I was serving other people.”

Jenna said she tries to serve God everywhere. Earlier this year, as she stood in line at Starbucks, she had a new thought — a thought asking her to do something she previously would have thought of as terrifying.

The Lord wants me to pray, it said. Jenna saw someone sitting alone and sat down next to her.

“Hey, I’m being called to pray for you. Is that something you’re okay with?” Jenna asked.

The woman agreed. As they talked, the woman described her anxieties over a job interview she had later that day. Then, they prayed. Jenna said she’s been having these new thoughts often lately, and she hopes other Christians do as well.

“Don’t be afraid of your faith and don’t be ashamed of it,” Jenna said. “Ultimately, we’re on this earth to serve God, and you’re not serving God by keeping your faith hidden. I encourage anyone who believes in Jesus to be bold, because that’s the only way we can save lives, is to bring them to Jesus.”