From motherhood to makeup to "Modification Queen," Jackiedra Wilson shares her wisdom for living with a broader perspective.

Sun setting over Mater Dei Chapel

It’s hard to believe that 2023 marks 25 years since I graduated from The Mount. I have vivid memories of things I experienced during undergrad and in this same breath, so much has changed for me personally and professionally. Here are four samples of life’s aha moments that I’ve reflected on recently. 

All it takes is a spark: I love writing, but I’m passionate about editing. I remember one of the moments that helped me realize the difference. It happened my freshman year in the computer lab. I got corrected on the use of “its” and “it’s” from a fellow student. I didn’t like how that felt, but it did spark something in me. This was one of several experiences that led me to declare communication arts as my major. By senior year, in addition to taking writing classes and co-oping at several companies, I had been a writing center tutor as well as an editor for the “Dateline.” I still love editing; and I’m not just talking about proofreading. I enjoy making text and imagery work together at their best to deliver a message. That moment in the computer lab taught me that a mistake is a moment in time, and it’s up to you to decide how to learn and grow from it. 

Deeper than the eye can see: I deal with chronic vertigo. “Is it like feeling dizzy?” No, vertigo goes beyond feeling dizzy for me. Instead, it presents itself more like a migraine. Vertigo, its causes and its impact can have a wide range of experiences depending on the person. I call myself the Modification Queen because I navigate life avoiding vertigo triggers: at events, at the movie theater, in exercise class, in meetings, and so on. Looking at me, you would never know how much I do to modify daily life. Vertigo reminds me to give grace to people because you don’t always know what someone is experiencing. What you see rarely tells the whole story.

Two makeovers: I’m 47; I have gray hair; my stomach is way pudgier than it was in 1998; and I have hot flashes in the middle of the night. I’m experiencing all this and more. OMG! Meantime, I have found a new, fun activity that I started a couple of years ago: using makeup. I was never, ever, ever, ever into makeup, not even as a teenager. I only wore it for special occasions. Now, I’m enjoying it. I like the artform of it, and it fits with my personality because I’ve always had my own style. Life is full of changes, so even in the midst of change, it’s okay to try new things. Staying in your comfort zone keeps you from learning things about yourself.

The #47, the #32 and a whole lot more: Speaking of getting out of a comfort zone, attending The Mount was a canyon-sized leap for me. College is a transition no matter who you are. Then add to it first-gen student, from subsidized housing, from a predominantly black high school juxtaposed to a deep Westside, Catholic, suburban, predominantly white college. Annnnnd, I was about five months pregnant at the beginning of freshman year. I did not have much in common with my peers. I lived on campus for one semester; but the majority of my college life, I commuted taking the #47 and #32 Metro buses. I was already a mom. I was even married before I graduated from college! One of the main things I am grateful for from my college experience is I should have been the underdog. Instead, no matter how odd and difficult it felt sometimes, I stuck to it and earned my degree with summa cum laude honors, co-op student of the year and other awards. Circumstances have an impact, but don’t count yourself out and do get as much support as you can find. Shout-out to my husband, Mom and Dad who helped me so much along the way.

Here I am 25 years after graduating from The Mount with my undergrad degree. I’m happy to share some of my experiences, reflections thus far and the wisdom I’ve earned. I hope that these nuggets of perspective can be helpful for you.

Jackiedra Wilson, ‘98 communication arts and ‘08 MSOL, is the Marketing and Corporate Communication Executive at Messer Construction Co. She and Emmanuel have been married for 26 years; they have two adult children.