Giving Back to Thank Those Who Gave
They say it takes a village to raise a child. East Stroudsburg University junior Ashlyn Jackson knows that to be true. Growing up in Harrisburg she was member of First Zion Baptist Church and the Boys and Girls Club. Her family faced challenges, but these groups gave her a sense of community and never let her feel the weight of those challenges. She was the recipient of donated coats and gloves during cold winter months and a helping hand whenever needed all year-round. It is that sense of community that shaped Jackson into the person she is today and that continues to develop the person she strives to become.
When Jackson was 13 years old she accompanied her pregnant cousin to all her doctors’ appointments. She became intrigued with the idea of becoming an Obstetrician Gynecologist. She graduated from Harrisburg High School SciTech Campus in the top five percent of her class, and was accepted to ESU as a biology major with a concentration in pre-medicine.
The transition from high school to college was made easy by Jackson’s dedication to community involvement. “I am still involved in my church at home and the Boys and Girls Club,” Jackson said. “But I knew most of my time would be spent here, so it was important for me to be involved at ESU too.” Getting involved helped her make friends and build a new community. On campus she has been involved with the New Student Mentor Program, Warrior Elite Student Ambassadors, Biology Club, Residence Hall Association, Voices of Triumph Gospel Choir, African American Student Alliance, Xplosion Step Team, Pre-Med Club, and Student Senate. “These are groups that reflect my interests and help me become a part of something bigger,” Jackson said.
Her steady involvement at home earned her the 2014 Youth of the Year award for Leadership, Success, and Inspiration by the Boys and Girls Club. In 2015 the YWCA named her the Women of Excellence Emerging Leader. Her involvement on campus earned her the 2017 MLK Award.
Aspiring to be an OBGYN, Jackson devotes her summer breaks to programs that feed her interest in medicine and help develop her into a competitive medical school candidate. She has attended Penn State Hershey Medical Center’s observation program and the University of Louisville’s Summer Medical and Dental Program.
“I’m getting ready for the MCAT now,” Jackson said, referring to the Medical College Admission Test she will need to take to get into medical school. Jackson knew she’d need to make some time in her schedule to dedicate to studying for the test. Reluctantly, she took a step back from many of her on-campus activities. “Being a part of the community and being able to give back means so much to me. It is hard to step away from that. But I realize there will be times that I’ll have to scale back in order to excel,” Jackson explained. “I keep reminding myself it is for the greater good.”
Once she achieves her goal of earning a medical degree she plans to be an even greater force in the community. Jackson hopes to establish a practice in an urban community where young females do not always receive much education about their bodies. “I want to create a space where women of all ages can be educated and examined in a safe, affordable, and comforting environment.” This upcoming summer, Jackson hopes to be accepted into the University of Louisville’s MCAT-DAT program, which will also help her prepare to take the test.
Jackson never took for granted the village that helped her become the woman she is today. She reminds those around her to go the extra mile to help someone else, because you never know what your generosity will help them to go on to achieve.