I believe that we can best unite humanity through art and creative expression.

Jackson Pierce-Felker '18
Photo by Tim Sofranko

"I've always loved reading and writing. As a boy I read voraciously, often under my desk during math and science classes. Later on in high school, I wrote catchy advertising jingles for the morning announcements, until one day I realized I could apply that skill to something more personally meaningful, and I discovered the joy of poetry.

"I started out writing raps, and fell in love with the purity of self-expression. It was both satisfying and cathartic to turn my real-life experiences, thoughts and feelings into something tangible, and it allowed me to connect with people on a much deeper level. I believe that we can best unite humanity through art and creative expression.

"When I first came to Bucknell, I was focused on majoring in psychology. As much as I enjoyed writing, I was fearful of the stigma that comes with devoting your life to the humanities. I had a change of heart after taking Poetry, Mind and Nature with Professor Katie Hays. That was one of the first times a professor really made me feel like my writing had value, and that I should continue to pursue the craft.

"She connected me with the editorial internship at West Branch, Bucknell's professional literary journal, which I am so grateful for. We read and discuss poems, essays and short stories, while also learning about the administrative aspects of the publishing industry. I've learned about a whole community of authors and journals that I didn't even know existed. It  has helped me understand that if you're doing what you love, the stigma doesn't matter.

"My interest in psychology is rooted in a desire to understand how our society can help disadvantaged populations. My mother works as a therapist in our hometown's county jail, where she evaluates new inmates and connects them with local mental health services. I grew up hearing stories about vulnerable people slipping through the cracks of the system, which instilled a strong sense of empathy within me. If we can better understand mental illness, perhaps we can reintegrate people into our society instead of repeatedly incarcerating them.

"My summer internships have brought my interests together, first as a case management intern at Miriam's Kitchen in Washington, D.C., where I had the opportunity to facilitate a writing program for the homeless guests. It was the perfect blend — I was learning about the grittiest parts of the system while also helping people find some sense of relief through art. The following summer, I worked as a development and communications intern at Aspire Counseling, a mental health services nonprofit in Maryland. I was able to learn a lot about how a nonprofit functions.

"I wouldn't be at Bucknell were it not for the Posse Foundation, which has without a doubt been one of the most formative things I've ever been a part of. The months of training we went through as a group taught me about the flaws in our society and the importance of uplifting the people around you. The discussions I've had and the relationships I've built because of Posse will follow me long after graduation. I will never be able to repay them."

Jackson is from Rockville, Md.

Meet more students at Bucknell Student Stories.

Posted 12/13/2016

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