How Alison Jackson makes a difference in the classroom and beyond
Alison Jackson bleeds double blue. She first came to Sheridan as an IT Support Services student and graduated in 2002. While she was here, she served as vice-president of the Sheridan Student Union. Then, in 2005, she returned to work in student affairs. She’s worked in several student advisory roles including as an Embedded Advisor in the Faculty of Applied Health and Community Studies, and she is now a Student Rights and Responsibilities Officer at the Hazel McCallion Campus. Plus, she teaches part time in the Pilon School of Business.
With such a deep connection to Sheridan, it’s no surprise that she sees supporting students as an extension of her daily work. Over the last four years, she has made giving back a priority, giving generously to a fund that supports international students who find themselves in urgent financial stress, and to the SkyBlue Fund to support Sheridan’s student athletes.
She told us a bit about what inspires her to give, and why supporting Sheridan matters.
Why do you give back to Sheridan?
In all the roles that I've been in here, including being a student, I've seen a lot of students in need who are struggling and who have not been eligible for any supports or who didn’t know where to get it. There was a part of me that felt that it was my duty to help support these students and give back, because I could see the struggles.
For example, students I advise now - or those in my classes - I work with a lot of international students, and there are not a lot of options around bursaries, scholarships or other financial options for our international students. When they start school, there are many financial expenses that they might not have been aware of (rent, transportation, utilities, etc.), or if something happens back home and they must return, some of their money gets depleted by these additional expenses. That puts them in a predicament. So that's why some of the money that I give goes towards international students.
In my role as academic advisor, I worked closely with our Social Service Worker and Child and Youth Care students and saw a lot of students who were struggling financially and in other areas. I just feel like as an institution, if we are in the business of supporting our students, we should be supporting them in all areas, not just academically.
Why does supporting SkyBlue matter to you?
In all my years at school, I played sports. I love sports. And sometimes it can be very difficult for athletes trying to maintain a balance between sports and their academics. And sometimes they need a little motivation. I think (scholarships) help in terms of recognizing all the hard work they do. These bursaries and academic awards show we notice you, we see all the hard work that you do. And this is our way to say thank you, to say job well done.
What would you say to encourage others to give back?
If you choose to work in an educational institution, I assume you choose to do that for a couple of reasons. One of those is because you want to help students. Helping students is not just about pointing them in the right direction. It's not just about teaching them - it's about helping, serving and supporting them and all of the needs that they have. And some of that is financial.