A conversation with Nick Jackson typically takes place on his cell phone in an airport between flights or while he’s driving to an event. As the school coordinator and motivational speaker for the nonprofit organization UGive, Nick travels to schools around the country, inspiring students to participate in service work and helping them obtain college scholarships. Ordained as a minister in 2004, he’s also been preaching with Vineyard Westside Church for more than a year.
He is selfless. When asked about Thanksgiving plans, he doesn’t mention turkey or football. Rather he talks about Cincinnati’s Fall Feast, where he will help feed 1,500 people who are in transition. “The Mount helped me see the importance of loving your neighbor,” Nick says. “A lot of it was being around some of the Sisters of Charity,” he adds, laughing. He talks at length about their commitment — praying for him every day, eating lunch with him, cutting up with him.
On a scale of one to five, Nick says he’d rate his experience at the Mount a six. Nick came to the Mount as part of its Project EXCEL program. “For the first time in my life I was able to have multiple tutors and untimed testing in all my classes — I was able to really learn how to learn,” he says. “I received a lot of one-on-one attention and met a lot of people who really cared.”
One of those people was former Professor of Education Vesta Mickel. “Her whole thing was helping students to see their potential in the world and getting them to be the best teacher they could be,” says Nick, who obtained a degree in special education. “I used to come late to class every day. She sat me down and told me I had more talent in my pinky finger than most of the other students in her class. That comment really woke me up. She was a big blessing in my life.”
Nick also talks about Jane Pohlman ’63, former director of Project EXCEL. “She always wanted to know what was going on in your life. She even told me that she knew when I was lying and that she’d still listen to me because she cared about me. She was more than a professor to me, she was like a mom,” he says.
While at the Mount, Nick played football for Coach Ron Corradini, who, like Jane, was more than a coach — he was like a dad, buying football shoes for students who needed them. “Our team was average at best,” Nick says. “We had no field and old jerseys, but he believed in us, he loved us. He still keeps in touch with me.”
In addition to class and athletics, Nick helped form the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on campus and served as a student resident leader for Project SCOPE and Upward Bound. These events foreshadowed his work today. “All those things really solidified my college experience because I was able to lead while I was in school. I say to kids that you can go anywhere and get educated. There are great colleges out there. But if you’re looking for a close-knit, spiritual experience where you can be a leader … at the Mount there are doors open for you to lead right now.”