Mount St. Joseph University

A Life Dedicated to Others: Rachel Jackson

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Danielle Watkins

For most college students, pushing through their classes is enough of a struggle without trying to simultaneously bring awareness to a growing social problem. However, for one MSJ student, Senior Rachel Jackson, the two tasks came together in one project. As part of her practicum with Dr. Tracy McDonough, Jackson produced a powerful 30-minute documentary on homelessness and mental illness which she says are “two things that tend to go hand-in-hand.”

In the documentary, which was shown at this year’s Celebration of Teaching and Learning (at which Jackson was the keynote speaker), Jackson interviewed workers at a number of resource agencies and homeless or previously-homeless individuals. Each interview, which ranged from informative to emotional, was conducted by Jackson herself. Producing the video was a massive endeavor and when asked about how it felt to show it publicly Jackson replied, “It was a validating experience. I have no background in the arts, and I didn’t use nice equipment or anything, so I was nervous about people actually watching it. Everyone was incredibly supportive.”

The support for Jackson’s work doesn’t end there, however, as she is being honored with the Mount’s undergraduate Distinguished Student Award. As such, Jackson will be giving this year’s commencement speech at graduation, an experience she describes as, “a huge honor,” even as she confesses she’s “had a bit of writer’s block so far in writing the speech.”

After graduation, Jackson plans to continue her education at the University of Cincinnati, for a Master’s to PhD program in the Educational Studies department, concentrating on Educational and Community-Based Action Research, a program she chose for its focus on social justice with a group of students who, like Jackson, are fiercely passionate promoters of a variety of causes.

The program is a perfect fit for the intelligent young woman who has already begun to raise awareness on the issues that matter to her. Dateline wishes Rachel Jackson all the best as she goes on to fulfill her ultimate wish, something that she’s always wanted to do: “to help others.”