Knowledge undoubtedly is power.
By and large, no one really had to remind Erica Jackson of that.
Even after vacating college prematurely years ago, Jackson, a Memphis native, knew full well that if she really wanted to engage in and evolve in the entrepreneurial industry, she had to become more assertive and dedicated as it pertains to enhancing her education.
“College didn’t come easy for me and I eventually stopped,” Jackson, a 1995 Memphis East High graduate, told longtime journalist Andre Johnson during a recent interview.
Regardless, Jackson thought it essential that she resume pursuing higher education seven years ago, this time Belhaven University, where she majored in Social Services/Christian Ministry.
Consequently, she earned her undergraduate degree in 2013, and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Leadership at Belhaven, where she expected to graduate in December.
Looking back, Jackson would be the first to tell you that not only is knowledge powerful, but because she never lost the passion and desire for possessing educational excellence, she is moving ever so closely to her God-appointed destiny.
Jackson doesn’t shy away from the notion that she is an aspiring entrepreneur, considering she is steadfastly devising ways to get her business-oriented venture off the ground.
Jackson, 39, is chief operating officer of StandUp Leadership Outreach, a Memphis-based non-profit organization that is geared largely toward developing leaders as well as a variety of other programs, most notably mentoring and creative arts.
This newly-established organization also is widely known for conducting youth conferences, functions and activities geared toward enhancing the lives of young girls, as well as periodic creative arts workshops geared toward to boosting the non-profit organization as a whole.
“My personal mission is to develop leaders, build self-esteem, and help them to see they have a purpose even while they are young…just like others did for me,” Jackson explained. “This is my purpose.”
Fortunately for her, in erecting her business venture, she overwhelming got the vote of confidence of her mother, Wanda Jackson, and her “pastor friend,” Tony Woodard of Memphis’ Living Purpose Christian Church.
“(They) inspired me by helping me realize there was much more in me than I realized,” Jackson said. “(Woodard) helped me realize I was a leader. He once said to me, ‘Breathe, stretch, shake, let it go; after you have let it go, do not pick it up again. You are a great leader.’ He wanted me to do a youth leadership boot camp and I had no idea what to do. With God’s help, I got a team together and we made it happen. I saw kids grow in Christ and grew to learn their purpose! Tony brought me to my purpose of promoting spiritual growth into the lives of middle schoolers. This became a huge passion and, in the process, I learned I was a leader. To this day, teens are telling how much of an impact the boot camp laid the groundwork of their faith and God gets all the glory. ”
Woodard, as Jackson acknowledged, wasn’t the only area minister to help steer her in the right direction, particularly as it relates to assuming the business-oriented approach. New Direction Christian Church’s Karren Todd also contributed mightily to Jackson’s entrepreneurial success.
“She brought out the creativity in me and helped me to hone in on my craft of writing and acting and I, in turn, was able to do the same for young people. The last person to inspire me was my pastor, Marron Thomas of Innovation Church. He pushed me to take the limits off of God and myself. He pushed me to step out in faith and be all that God called me to be. He and his wife, Tori Thomas, helped me to realize I have the ability to minister to teen girls when they gave me the opportunity to start a girl group for my internship.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
That’s because of her stern commitment to education, coupled with the backing of a solid supporting cast, it’s safe to assume that Jackson’s biggest and brightest days as a rising entrepreneur are well ahead of her.
Knowledge undoubtedly is power.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, athlete, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to email@example.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.