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‘That officer changed my life’: One woman’s journey from homeless teen to cop

Officer Miaja Jefferson says she wanted to join the organization that changed her own life for the better

miaja jefferson cobb county police officer

Liza Lucas 11Alive

By Suzie Ziegler

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Miaja Jefferson was a young, homeless mother when she had a conversation with a police officer that would change her life. Now, she’s joining the police department.

It all began when Jefferson walked into the child protective services office. The teenager had been on her own since she was 12, but authorities started asking questions when she became pregnant, reported 11 Alive.

“I remember, specifically, going into foster care because that Cobb County Police officer came up to me, and you know, [child services] was involved. They wanted to kind of know what was going on because at this point, school is finding out,” Jefferson told 11 Alive.

But as Jefferson explained her situation to the officer, she realized this time would be different.

“That was the first time someone actually believed me,” she said. “That officer really, really changed my life.”

Jefferson was placed in foster care. Her foster family said Jefferson brought nothing with her except her baby and a dream of a better life, reports 11 Alive. According to her foster family, Jefferson was a real “go-getter” who was determined to change her circumstances.

“I started seeing support I didn’t even know was there,” she said. “I needed someone believing in me. Anybody who crossed my path who helped me, they are in my life today.”

Jefferson ultimately graduated from high school, obtained a certificate in IT and briefly worked for a corporation. But her heart was set on something else.

“She knew early on she wanted to be a police officer and go to college and that’s what she did,” said Jennifer Schiltz, Jefferson’s former foster parent. “She just put her mind to it and didn’t let anything stop her.”

In 2020, Jefferson earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Kennesaw State University, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported. And this year, Jefferson graduated from the Cobb County Police Academy and continues her field training.

Jefferson says she hopes to change someone else’s life, just like a police officer changed hers.

“I really want [kids] to know to not let what they’re going through, or their past, dictate their future,” she said.

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