Darius Jackson

Program assistant/academic advisor, Center for Latino and Latin American Studies

Darius Jackson

What year did you start working at NIU?
Spring 2016

Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
My hometown is Harvey, Illinois, and I currently live in DeKalb.

Select your affiliated college/division
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?
Northern Illinois University (for all):

If you attended college, were you a first-generation student? If so, what advice would you offer to current first generation students?
Yes, I was a first-generation student. My advice to other first-generation students is to utilize the different cultural centers on campus and keep in mind your family misses you just as much as you miss them, so call home!

Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
A typical workday for me includes planning events for students on and off campus. On a daily basis, I also advise students by helping them enroll in our minor in Latino and Latin American studies, select courses to complete the minor and answer questions related to the minor.

What do you like about working at NIU?
There are several things I enjoy about working at NIU, but one of the top reasons is the reassurance I get from students who let me know I am making a difference for them. It feels very good to know that students who were enrolled in classes I taught in the College of Education have become elite educators in various K-12 schools and even overseas. Oftentimes, my past students reach out to me to let me know that they are applying the things they learned in my class in their classrooms today.

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Enjoy your college experience. Make sure to keep up with your coursework but remember there is a necessary balance between academics and enjoyment. Find events on campus and attend things you are interested in that sound fun. It’s also a great way to meet new people and make a good social life.

What is important for students to know about the office/department that you work in? What student services does your office provide?
One of the major components of the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies is our minor program that educates students about the Latinx culture and experience. The minor is open to students of any cultural background and is a great way to get involved on campus. Our center offers several student services. One in particular, our student ambassador program, provides students the opportunity to plan, organize and lead various events to develop their leadership, networking and team-building skills.

In what ways do you see your colleagues help student success?
Our minor program provides students with knowledge of the Latinx culture and experience that will complement their academics in other minor and major courses.

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
My favorite memory of NIU is walking across the stage for the first time in 2014.

What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of?
My biggest accomplishment I am most proud of is earning my doctorate at NIU, with all of my students cheering me along the way.

What fulfills you personally and professionally?
Personally, I enjoy doing spoken word poetry, and professionally, I enjoy helping students achieve their academic goals.

Which of NIU’s core values align with your own?
While I align myself with all of NIU’s core values, the one that stands out the most to me is equity and inclusion.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
While growing up, I wanted to be an English teacher. While I did achieve that goal, I am no longer an English teacher. What changed my path was that I found I could be doing more for my students in other roles.

Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional or community organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU?
Yes, I am a member and founder of Four Poets One Mic. The main purpose of the organization is to perform original poetry on social justice issues on and off campus. This organization benefits my role at NIU by giving me the opportunity to work with NIU students on expressing their poetic abilities.

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I enjoy eating ice cream and watching movies.

Do you have any hobbies or interesting personal pursuits you're involved with in your spare time?
Poetry is my love and hobby!

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
As a first-gen student from Harvey, Illinois, who grew up poor, getting accepted to NIU through the CHANCE Program was exciting and scary. However, the academic journey from undergrad to obtaining my doctorate has been life-changing, and I am forever thankful. To students who find their stories similar to mine, I want you to know you can reach out to me and I would be more than happy to assist you on your academic journey. Keep pushing and know you can do it. Go Huskies!

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