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Shakira Jackson ‘22

Taking leadership seriously

Shakira Jackson

It’s clear when you first meet Shakira Jackson ’22 that she’s come to impress. From her tailored jackets to her two planners, she has the business-like air of a person who is here to get things done.

And get things done she has. At Pitt-Bradford, she has served as president of four clubs – Political Minds (she is, first and foremost an activist and history-political science major), Angelical Pitches (so she can enjoy using her operatically-trained voice), the Network of Enlightened Women (which she founded to give all marginalized groups and their allies a place to come together while inspiring young women activists to use their voices and advocate for social change), and the National Society of Leadership and Success (two things she’s ALL about).

Jackson, who is from Philadelphia, has been all business since kindergarten, when she told her teacher she planned to grow up to be the President of the United States.

She found her voice – literally and figuratively – in eighth grade when she joined Teen Voices of the City Ensemble, a choir sponsored by Opera Philadelphia to encourage musicianship, self-expression and empowerment.

As part of Teen Voices, Jackson began speaking publicly at the group’s performances, touching on inequality and gender issues in particular.

When it came time to look for a college, she sought a place where she could have an impact. “When I visited Pitt-Bradford, I felt the vibe,” she said. “I thought, ‘Shakira, you could do a lot here.’”

Last fall, she testified remotely before the Pennsylvania legislative reapportionment commission on behalf of Campus Vote Project, encouraging legislators to adopt an apportionment formula that counts college students where they attend college, not where they live during the rest of the year. She argued that letting students vote where they attend school would increase engagement and civic interest among students.

Most recently, she served as a University of Pittsburgh representative for the Atlantic Coastal Conference’s Student Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. As part of the program, she met with Pennsylvania’s U.S. senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey and Pittsburgh area representatives Conor Lamb and Guy Reschenthaler.

In fall of 2021, she took part in an entrepreneurship weekend for Pitt-Bradford students that was sponsored by Halloran Philanthropies and organized by the Watson Institute.

Following the weekend long program, Watson Institute selected Jackson to attend its semester-long accelerator program. In her final semester, she attends the program virtually with a cohort of young leaders from around the world.

After three years at Pitt-Bradford, Jackson’s undergraduate college career will end with commencement this spring. She has applied to a variety of law and graduate schools, hoping to pursue a career in politics and social change. Can’t wait to see what she does next.