Boosted by boyfriend’s death, Manor College Grad seeks life in law

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Sheresa Palmer ’22 believes Manor College has given her the chance to make an impact, both in college and in life.

Sheresa Palmer ’22 graduated from Manor College in May 2022 with her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She currently works at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office

Sheresa Palmer ’22 lives by the saying, “God gives his battles only to his toughest soldiers.”

“People look at me and say you smile so much, you wouldn’t know you went through anything,” Palmer said. “But I’m not afraid to tell my story. There’s someone else out there who has their own story and wants help, but just doesn’t know how to tell it.

While a student at Simon Gratz High School in North Philadelphia, Palmer was uninterested in dating and focused on her schoolwork. That was until she met Jeffrey Jarvis.

“There was something about him where I could just be his friend,” Palmer said. “We ended up becoming best friends.”

The couple became high school sweethearts. Jarvis loved her determination and being “a whole woman” who focused on her goals. Palmer gave birth to the couple’s son, Jay’len Jarvis, in 2014.

“When we got together, he was like, ‘I’m ready to treat you right,'” Palmer said. “God brought us together.”

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Palmer knew Jarvis lived a dangerous life growing up around drugs. She knew about his upbringing and wondered why he was selling drugs, but never knew how deep things went.

“He never brought it around me,” Palmer said. “But it was his environment. He was surrounded by people who only sold drugs.

Palmer knew the harsh reality of the streets. In her words, there are only two outcomes – prison or death – but she often prayed for a third outcome for Jarvis.

In November 2015, she dreamed that he was murdered. A few days later, she received a text from him saying, “Sheresa, I’m sorry. I love you and I’m happy to have had my child with you.

“You knew something was up,” Palmer said. “He let the past be the past with me.”

On the evening of December 22, 2015, Palmer was returning home from Christmas shopping with Jay’len when she received a call from her friend.

Jarvis was shot ten times, four of them in the chest, on North Carlisle Street. An ambulance transported Jarvis to hospital before Palmer arrived on the scene. He died that night.

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A woman dressed in graduation clothes stands next to her young son.
Sheresa Palmer and her son pose after the Manor College graduation ceremony in May 2022.

Growing up and seeing Jarvis’ lifestyle—knowing that it came from his surroundings—inspired Palmer to pursue a career in criminal justice.

“I want to make an impact on drugs, sexual assault and more,” Palmer said. “There are more factors that go into a decision than whether someone is guilty or innocent.”

She transferred to Manor College after another institution closed.

“When the school closed, I wondered what I should do,” Palmer said. “I didn’t want to be on my deathbed thinking I should have done something. I had to get up and find a school. Then I found Manoir.

At Manor College, she found an environment with teachers who supported her.

“Manor College was welcoming and I prayed for that,” Palmer said. “I knew I could have an impact. Professor (Mary) Sims made sure I got where I was supposed to. I could call him any time of the night. She helped me with papers and took care of me.

Palmer made his career count at Manor College. She was nominated in 2020 for the Mother Josaphat Award – the institution’s highest student honor. She received the Unsung Hero Award from the Student Affairs team at Manor for “putting her heart and soul into everything she does, even when the work goes unrecognized.” Palmer has also been a member of Rotaract, the Social Justice Club, and the women’s soccer team.

Professor Sims recalled a time when, after a Rotaract meeting, Palmer left and returned with a gigantic bag of clothes for Manor’s Career Closet.

“She always does her best, even when she has so much to do as a mother and a full-time employee,” Professor Sims said. “She is very caring, involved and has done so much for the causes at Manor College.”

Palmer graduated with an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice from Manor College in 2020. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration in May 2022. During her college career, she interned with the District Attorney’s Office of Philadelphia.

She continues to work with the office to this day. A week before graduation, she received a promotion and became a training coordinator. His work guides the education team in preparing legal internship and training programs for the new class of attorneys studying the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Palmer is currently taking master’s courses in forensic psychology at Neumann University and studying for the LSAT. She hopes to pursue a doctorate. Her ultimate goal, however, is to become a voice for the voiceless and an advocate for those in need.

“I didn’t have that pattern when I was growing up,” Palmer said. “My family raised me well, but sometimes you need a little extra push when you think you’re going to give up. I tell my son, ‘I don’t care what other people feel, you have a voice. You are who you are. Stay up and keep going until you get what you want.

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