By Heather Baker
Many students go off to college hoping to change the future. Chloe’ Rose Jackson ’15 envisioned finding a cure for the cancer that took her uncle’s life, but a medical breakthrough won’t be the legacy that Jackson leaves behind. Instead, she is working miracles in the lives of children who desperately need someone to believe in them and show them how to believe in themselves.
When Jackson started looking at colleges, she wanted to study biomedical engineering to find a cure for cancer. After researching several colleges, she chose Bradley for its small classes, wide array of student organizations and perfect distance from her family in Chicago. While Bradley didn’t have a biomedical engineering program, it did have mechanical engineering with a biomedical engineering concentration.
She discovered early on, however, that mechanical engineering didn’t mesh with her extroverted personality. Thus, she began taking electives. Through these classes and her volunteer work at Peoria’s Dream Center, she found her home in the social work program. The change meant she would still be able to help people, but in a way more aligned with her skills and personality.
Her social work professors imparted a strong passion for her studies. They taught her how to implement what she learned and thereby prepared her for life after college. She still keeps in touch with them today as they have become close friends and trusted mentors. Jackson also developed strong bonds through her extracurricular activities. Her Bradley family included fellow Hypnotiq dancers and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated members.
Jackson was recently hired as a medical social assistant at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. She also works as a mental health associate for UnityPoint Health-Methodist hospital, where she helps youth dealing with psychological and behavioral issues. Jackson has found a career that fulfills her passion for helping others and making a difference. She has also found a way to help others that incorporates her passion and love for dance.
From the young age of 2 years old, Jackson has been dancing. Dance is a part of who she is, “Dance is in my heart, dance is life,” she said. It has taught her discipline and served as an escape from the hardships and pressures of life.
A few years ago, Jackson founded P413 Dance Academy, but it is much more than a place to learn how to dance. Jackson takes these students, ages 6 – 17, under her wing. Almost all of her students come from underprivileged, low-income families. Many are facing academic failure and have problems within their community or home. These kids are in need of a positive influence and a role model. “There are hard situations to witness, but it is gratifying to be their support,” Jackson said.
She has made it a point to show them the value in having passing grades and importance of managing their responsibilities. “It is immeasurably rewarding to see them come out of their shell, to gain confidence and to see drastic changes both academically and spiritually,” Jackson said. Living in Peoria without family nearby, “The students of P413 have become my family and the support is reciprocal,” she added.
Jackson’s advice to current students is to follow your dreams and true passions. “It’s not a race. You don’t have to have it all figured out but just keep pushing. Be confident in your path, no path is the wrong path as long as you’re moving forward,” she said.