Cornell University recently announced that Shawn Jackson, Warren County District 3 supervisor, will be serving on the school’s board of directors for alumni affairs.
“It means a lot to me to be a part of this board,” Jackson said. “It’s an honor.”
Jackson received her Bachelor of Science from Cornell University in 1998 in the school of Industrial Labor Relations. Cornell University is the only school in the nation to offer an undergraduate concentration of the major and Cornell is one of only five colleges in the world that offer the major as an undergraduate program. Jackson focused her time in the field to study labor economics, labor law, negotiations and collective bargaining.
The National Alumni Association for the school hosted nominations and Jackson was nominated to serve on the board and was elected to the position.
“There are thousands of alumni who are active, including those who just graduated to individuals who are much older but still are active like classes from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s,” Jackson said. “It will allow me to connect with fellow alumni from all walks of life and all age ranges who are still connected to the university.”
Jackson was born in Vicksburg and grew up on Valley Street, which is located in District 3 where she now presides as supervisor. Most of Jackson’s family lives in Mississippi, but her aunt had a dream of attending Cornell University, and it was a goal she fulfilled. Jackson’s mother followed right behind her sister to the upstate New York town when Jackson was still in elementary school.
“I, being 12, finished my last year at Bowmar,” Jackson said. “So, after my mom made the move to Ithaca, [New York], I finished up school then went to Cornell.”
Upon graduation, Jackson’s career moved her to New York City, Orlando and Atlanta before she returned to the River City, but through all her moves and career changes, she always considered Mississippi home.
“I never saw it as moving or leaving Mississippi,” Jackson said. “For me, it was education and then career and through that, the majority of my close family stayed in Mississippi, so we would come and visit and come for all the holidays.”
Toward the end of 2010, Jackson’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. Jackson, along with her siblings moved her mother back to Mississippi for hospice care.
“So, ultimately, that’s how I got back to Vicksburg, but I never really felt like I left,” Jackson said.
Jackson has a passion to ensure Mississippi children have weighed all opportunities for higher education.
“We have some awesome resources here in Warren County and also resources in Hinds and other adjacent counties,” Jackson said, “but there are a lot of our residents that need to, or should have, other options, so I would love to serve to show kids locally to explore Cornell as they would explore Alcorn, Jackson State or Ole Miss.”
With Jackson’s degree from Cornell, she started Trainspree, which is a workforce development company to train food service workers all the way to top executives.
“We have trained executives from AmeriCorps and executives from the City of Vicksburg,” Jackson said.
Annually, Trainspree educates about 1,000 people across the state, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, her company, like many others, is feeling the effects.
“We’ve been sheltering in place like everyone else,” Jackson said, “so my business is taking a hit, too.”
Jackson chose to run for supervisor to serve locally and make a difference in Warren County; she also expects big things to come for Mississippi politics.
“I think a lot is going to happen politically with leadership in the next five years that’s going to be good for the state,” she said.
Jackson has experience in working with political campaigns, but when it came to make the decision to run for District 3 supervisor, she had to weigh it against other factors in her life.
“I have three small children, and I have a company,” Jackson said. “The best way to get involved, for me, was to be a mechanism to know I could make a difference, but also to be able to support my current lifestyle.”
She added that being a supervisor was the best fit for her to serve locally in the political world. Jackson serves on numerous boards and community committees, but when it came to making a true difference, she knew politics was the answer.
“You can complain about what Warren County does or does not have,” Jackson said, “but if you’re not actually active in helping, then I think it’s what it will continue to be, and that’s just complaints. Or you can find something that fits your time schedule and lifestyle to actually help, and that is how I saw the supervisor position for me.”