Georgia College celebrates African American History Month and leadership strides of alumnus

Georgia College celebrates African American History Month and leadership strides of alumnus

I n February, Georgia College celebrates the accomplishments of many African Americans, including Juawn Jackson, ’16—an exemplary leader. He’s a project advisor for Alpha Phi Alpha Educational Talent Search and also serves as the youngest member ever on the Bibb County Board of Education. 

Juawn Jackson
Juawn Jackson

As project advisor for Alpha Phi Alpha Educational Talent Search, Jackson is responsible for assisting middle and high school students with navigating college readiness, financial aid and career development. He helps facilitate free services for scholars such as workshops, test waivers, assistance with identifying scholarships and planning college visits and cultural trips.

In his role, Jackson strives to knock down barriers that stand in the way of his scholars, most of which come from limited-incomes households and will be first-generation college students.

“I seek to motivate and inspire my scholars to reach their God-given purpose,” he said. “However, often we have to balance invisible barriers such as imposter syndrome, self-doubt, etc., that has found residence inside of these bright, young men and women. My job is to tackle those barriers head-on. And, I love a good fight.”

Jackson got his start in leadership as Georgia College’s first African American Student Government Association (SGA) president to serve two terms.

“During my tenure, I understood the weight of responsibility that came with the position and my commitment to be the voice for all students,” he said. “Georgia College understands the importance of student governance and provides student leaders with opportunities to think independently and lead creatively.”

Jackson applies what he learned while serving in SGA in both of his current roles. One such skill, heightened during those years, was providing ethical, servant and transformative leadership. 

Students gather at the Georgia General Assembly to learn more about state government alongside their Advisor Juawn Jackson (first row, far right) and other chaperones from the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Epsilon Beta Lambda chapter.
Students gather at the Georgia General Assembly to learn more about state government alongside their Advisor Juawn Jackson (first row, far right) and other chaperones from the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Epsilon Beta Lambda chapter.

“You’ll never satisfy everyone,” he said. “However, when you make decisions based on facts and data while looking for ways to advance the interests of those you represent—always telling them the truth—you’ll be regarded well in history. It’s that philosophy I seek to instill in my students whom I advise and in the job that I’ll do for the next four years as a Board of Education member.”

As a product of Macon-Bibb County, Jackson wants to give back to a community that has given so much to him. He spends over 24 hours a week in local schools observing how hard the students work, the creativity of the educators and the dedication of support professionals.

“I want to be a cheerleader for our school system and ensure that resources are available for every child to be successful,” he said. “I plan to use my youthfulness to connect with students and become better advocates for them.”

During his four-year term, he will also focus on creating a robust economy and stronger community. 

“We must focus on retaining current businesses and industries and creating opportunities for new economic development, while addressing poverty by continuing to provide a high-quality public education that ensures our students are college and career ready,” said Jackson. “We can do this by expanding industry partnerships, championing entrepreneurship and recruiting and retaining quality educators.”

During African American History Month, we salute individuals who, like Jackson, have made a lasting impact on our communities. 

Dr. Carolyn Denard
Dr. Carolyn Denard

“A true knowledge of African American history will help all of us understand the nature of the struggle that African Americans have been engaged in since they arrived in this country, and how they have endured, and in many ways, triumphed,” said Dr. Carolyn Denard, associate vice president, chief diversity officer, Office of Inclusive Excellence at Georgia College. “Once people have that knowledge, hopefully, they will respect the contributions of African Americans, understand the injustices that have been historically leveled against and them and be inspired to change our world for the better.”

Denard, along with her team in the Office of Inclusive Excellence strive to achieve diversity excellence in the composition of the community, educational programs, university policies, research and scholarship, campus life, employment practices, extracurricular activities and community-outreach. 

“A true knowledge of African American history will help all of us understand the nature of the struggle that African Americans have been engaged in since they arrived in this country, and how they have endured, and in many ways, triumphed. Once people have that knowledge, hopefully, they will respect the contributions of African Americans, understand the injustices that have been historically leveled against and them and be inspired to change our world for the better.”
– Dr. Carolyn Denard

Her goals include completing a new Diversity Action Plan, establishing a Diversity and Inclusion Policy Committee on the University Senate, launching an on-going educational series (Diversity 360) that will provide practical ways to help the community address issues that are often obstacles to creating a welcoming climate on campus. In addition, she will provide training sessions led by staff, faculty and student diversity peer educators to better understand challenges and work together to learn effective ways to address them and establish advisory councils of members of the college, alumni and Milledgeville communities to get their advice and provide ongoing accountability for the Office of Inclusive Excellence.  

“Establishing the structural components for the university is my main goal,” said Denard. “If we can do this, then we will not have to depend on one individual to move diversity forward, but we will have a web of institutional structures that help us embed our values of diversity and inclusion in everything that we do.”

Everyone is invited to participate in GC’s African American History Month events listed below. To learn more about these events, contact Nadirah Mayweather, director of the Cultural Center, at: nadirah.mayweather.gcsu.edu or register here.