She was the president of her school’s National Honor Society, the vice president of her class and a star athlete. She is Milford High School’s class of 2019 salutatorian Jace McIntyre and she’s overcome extreme hardship to obtain all of her success.

She is, in fact, the youngest of four siblings, each of whom faced many of the same obstacles yet who have all managed to accomplish their goals.

“Our mother passed away a month before my second birthday and, shortly after that, my father was incarcerated,” Jace shared with the Sun. The four siblings moved in with their aunt, Kroshundra Sneed, who was 26 years old and a single parent with two children of her own at the time.

“She worked constantly. She made sure that we had everything we needed the whole entire time,” Jace said of her aunt. “She made sure that we got to play T-ball. She did everything in her power to make sure that we had a good and happy childhood.”

Jace’s oldest sibling is sister Jamie, who graduated from Milford High School in 2014. Jamie received her associate’s degree from Tyler Junior College and then transferred to Stephen F. Austin University. Jada, 11 months younger than Jamie, graduated valedictorian from Milford High in 2015 and began her college career at SFA.

“They went to the same college with each other for about two years,” said Jace, saying the two recently graduated from SFA: Jamie with a bachelor’s in social work and Jada with a bachelor’s in early childhood development.

“Both have been accepted into the master’s program,” Jada said of her two older sisters each pursuing a master’s degree in social work.

“Both of my sisters have been amazing role models. I looked up to them. I’m very blessed that God put them in my life to be my big sisters,” she said.

“I have an older brother. We’re a year apart,” said Jace of her sibling James, MHS graduate, class of 2018. “He got a 4-year track scholarship to run at Hardin-Simmons University. His major is kinesiology.”

Jace has been a student of Milford ISD since first grade. Math has been her favorite subject.

“I did participate in UIL when I was in junior high and my freshman year. I made it to regionals in storytelling,” Jace said. “I participated on the math team, too, but it became more difficult [to participate in academic UIL competitions] as I became more involved with sports.”

During her junior year, Jace was a member of the MHS volleyball team that was the first team to win a playoff game for the school.

“My senior year we made it to the third round of playoffs in volleyball,” she said. “We were the first team to do that in MHS history.” 

Her main interests have always been sports, she said, listing volleyball, basketball, track (4x1 relay, 4x2 relay, high jump, long jump), cheer and softball, as well as one year of baseball.

The recipient of the David Smoak Scholarship, Jace plans on attending Sam Houston State University in the fall.

“My plan is to major in accounting,” said Jace, whose goal is to graduate in three years instead of four and then to earn a master’s degree in accounting. From there, she wants to work at a firm and gain experience before ultimately securing a job with the FBI.

She attributes much of her success to her older sisters.

“My sisters knew that they had two younger siblings to look up to them,” Jace said. “They paved the way and I know they expected the best from us, so we had to do it. They always expected me to be my best.”

Jace shared that friends and family who knew her from an early age recognized her intelligence and athleticism.

“They didn’t let me use our situation as an excuse,” she said of those closest to her, especially her older sisters.

“We [Jace and her siblings] were still expected to do all that everyone else is doing and more if we’re capable of it,” she said. 

“One person that helped me and my siblings the most is my Aunt Kroshundra,” said Jace, giving her aunt most of the credit for everyone’s success but also recognizing others for their support and encouragement along the way.

“I would also like to thank my Uncle Calvin and my Aunt Veronica for taking me in my senior year,” she said. “They have been so supportive of me my entire senior year.

“My entire family has been a great support system,” she said. “And my coaches, as well. They’ve always been a great support in everything I’ve done.”

Kroshundra Sneed, the aunt who took Jace, her brother, and two sisters in those years ago, said she’s shed many tears in recent weeks.

“I am proud and emotional. I’ve cried a lot. Tears of joy. This has been a long road,” said Sneed of the satisfaction and joy she feels watching her nieces and nephew “accomplish every goal they have set.”

Sneed reported that all the children she reared got straight A’s throughout high school and were well-behaved, good kids.

“I was very strict on them. I did not accept B’s,” she said.

“They are amazing kids. I told them that ‘God has taken your parents from you, but He has given you me,’” she said, adding, “I am very, very proud. They did it. I appreciate them for doing what they were supposed to do. I had kids that would listen to me.”

Asked about some of the household routines and family rules, Sneed said, “We ate dinner together. Sometimes that was difficult when they had jobs and other things but we always tried to have Sunday dinner. No phones. No nothing. Sunday was for God and family. I didn’t want them to work on Sundays.

“The most important thing is respect,” she said of the one value that means the most to her. “I always told the kids that being kind doesn’t cost a thing. I told them to respect each other, to respect everyone.”

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