Amidst the excitement of graduation, communication major Ciara Jackson, a third generation MSU graduate, proudly carried the banner of the College of Communications Arts and Sciences this May - an annual honor given to one outstanding graduating senior. Daune Rensing, her academic adviser, recommended her for the position after witnessing her determination to overcome every hardship and earn her degree.
"I have almost 20 years of experience working with undergraduates and Ciara has been through more adversity than anyone I have ever worked with," said Rensing. "I am so proud of how she has persevered and made it to graduation."
Jackson hasn’t always lived in the spotlight throughout her career at MSU. During her freshman year, Jackson’s family moved to Kissimmee, FL, an 18-hour drive away. She was left with only the support of her grandparents.
"Throughout the years I have been homeless during breaks and summers," said Jackson. "I have slept in my car and bounced from house to house. My grandparents would have allowed me to stay with them, but I wanted to be an adult and didn’t want to impose."
Jackson never let these obstacles keep her from earning her bachelor’s degree in communication. Through the support of the family she created at MSU, she was able to persist on her road to success and create what she described as a phenomenal experience with ComArtSci.
Along the way, Jackson found helpful resources through the college and MSU. Jackson noted that Daune Rensing was an especially helpful adviser, who would refer her to various people and resources on campus. In addition to her advisers, Jackson also received assistance from Fostering Academics, Mentoring Excellence (FAME). The resource center provided Jackson with dental and health insurance and helped her to find housing during academic breaks.
"I managed to keep pushing forward because I know where I could end up without an education. I refuse to become a statistic," said Jackson. "I’ve met wonderful and caring advisers along with making lifelong friends."
Following graduation, Jackson is looking forward to a career in law enforcement. She felt the fast-paced job would best suit her active lifestyle.
"I’ve wanted to be a police officer since I was 12 years old," said Jackson. "I’ve already taken all necessary tests and interviewed twice with a local agency."
Jackson advises other students struggling to get their degree to take the journey one step at a time.
"Never be afraid to fail because everything right now is temporary," said Jackson. "If you fail, don’t be afraid to try again."
By Kaitlin Dudlets