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Vanessa Jackson ’23
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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Vanessa Jackson

Chicago, Illinois

Majors: Political Science and Africana Studies

Vanessa is an involved member of the Knox College community and works with several organizations to help increase the inclusivity and diversity of the campus.

Vanessa Jackson ’23

What is your major and why did you choose it? 

I am a double major in political science and Africana studies, but I originally started out as a creative writing major. I took one of the required classes and realized that it didn’t fit well with what I had envisioned for myself, so I decided to explore and see what I enjoyed. In the back of my mind, I always knew that I wanted to do law, but at the same time, I did not want to take the traditional pre-law pathway. In fact, I was encouraged not to because an increasing number of graduate schools want students with varying backgrounds as applicants for the law programs. Political science simply made sense to me and I decided to go with it. As for the Africana studies major—I took one class and found it extremely interesting and so I took another. This continued until I had enough credits for a major. 

Why did you choose Knox? 

Back in high school, when I was still looking at colleges, I came to Knox on tour and stayed overnight in one of the dorms. The host was absolutely amazing. They explained the nuances of Knox beautifully and we ended up staying up all night and talking! As a prospective student, I gained profound insight into life at Knox through the eyes of my host and I realized that everybody was extremely welcoming and supportive in the community. I knew right then and there that I had found my college home and I am grateful for it. 

What are some of the ways you are involved on the Knox campus?

I like to keep myself busy by participating in various activities and initiatives on campus. I am part of several cultural clubs, including A.B.L.E,  a community of people of African descent that serves as a safe space for students to talk about the challenges they may face being black in the United States. Similarly, we have Harambee and M.E.Ch.A, which are for students of African and Mexican descent respectively. QTPOCC is yet another organization that creates a safe space for queer people of color to talk about their issues.

During my third year at Knox, I was the executive officer of the Pre-Law Club. My role was to help plan events, such as law school visits and networking opportunities with alumni who have either done pre-law or are currently lawyers. We were also lucky enough to get donor funds to pay for LSAT prep materials from one of the top LSAT programs and explore the different career options that come with law. 

I also have three paid positions on campus: two with Disability Student Support Services, where I act as an administrative assistant and a peer navigator, and one with the library. With Disability Student Support Services, one of my responsibilities is to mentor students with disabilities. This job can be extremely rewarding as you see people grow and make their way through college. At the library, I currently serve as a fellow and manage many different projects, such as advocating for updating policies and regulations in the library. 

What advice would you give to your fellow students?

I think it is important to take care of yourself. College can be challenging sometimes and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and frazzled. Sometimes, it’s essential to take a step back and evaluate your current state of mind. Exploring the world around you is a crucial part of college. It is important to step out of your comfort zone and open up your options. You never know what you will find and enjoy. Knox has something to offer everyone. If you look for it, you will find it. Put yourself out there and let life take its course.

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Printed on Thursday, June 8, 2023