Brittany Jacksonmiddle grades education
I am a first generation college student and I struggled navigating the complex systems of higher education. Being perceived as being different at home and different at school, like many first generation college students, I didn't feel as though I belonged in either place. My favorite part about my time at UNL was finding a sense of belonging through joining Greek Life. My sorority provided a structured and safe environment for me to succeed, a support network of strong women, and empowered me to lead.
After I graduated, I was recruited to teach for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada. CCSD is the 5th-largest school district in the country with over 300,000 students. Working in a Tier I, Title I Turnaround Zone school opened my eyes to the plight of educational inequity in urban schools. I knew I wanted to do more to fight for social justice. I wanted to create spaces to confront institutional inequality and discrimination which lead me to a career in higher education. I served as an academic advisor for the TRIO Upward Bound Math & Science program at the University of Nevada- Las Vegas before becoming the Director for Engineering Recruitment at the Howard Hughes College of Engineering. Through these experiences, I was able to bring STEM educational opportunities to thousands of students in underserved schools in Las Vegas. Today, I am very active in the higher education community. I hold membership within NASPA, CIVSA, and the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators. I enjoy mentoring undergraduate students toward pathways to careers in higher education.
I was a student during the Great Recession and teaching positions were difficult to find. I also graduated in December which is not typically hiring season for most school districts. Yet, teaching and learning happens sometimes in unexpected places. My professors encouraged me to remain passionate about education but to think outside the box, which brought me to education in my hometown of Las Vegas. I have accomplished more beyond the traditional classroom setting than I could have ever imagined. My work with low-income, first generation students has been recognized by both the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce and the University of Nevada- Las Vegas. As an undergraduate, I envisioned becoming a teacher would be a clear cut path. I am proud of my long and winding (sometimes uphill) journey toward becoming an educator. UNL CEHS provided the paradigm shift I needed to find a path in education beyond teaching within traditional classroom walls. I am thankful to have graduated from the University during a challenging economic time in history because it gave me an unconventional path in education. I am thankful to be a UNL CEHS alumna, and I am thrilled to be back at the Nebraska as the University's new Senior Assistant Director for Campus Experience & Professional Development. I hope to continue to challenge students to think beyond walls, just as UNL CEHS did for me.
Learn to let go of what you picture your career is "supposed" to look like. While many of my education major peers were finding positions upon graduation, it took me two years to secure my first teaching position only to find that I was not passionate about being a classroom teacher! When I was an undergraduate, I didn't even know that higher education was a career path, let alone that it would be my calling and life's joy. Your timeline is your own. Don't compare your success to your peers. Find passion and career you love will find you.