Shoot for the moon, you’ll land among the stars. A date with destiny alright!
“Stay confident,” “Self-confidence is the best confidence. No matter what life throws at you, you will always be strong. You have to believe in yourself and then other people will follow.”
Wise words from a truly inspiring teen who has bravely overcome significant odds; from couches of family and friends, moving to foster care but feeling like an outcast to become highly sought-after. Now amazingly, the Philadelphia high school student has been accepted into more than 50 colleges, many thanks to her unwavering self confidence.
“It was very rocky in the beginning.”
“I did not want to allow anything to get the best of me,” she said of her motivation. “I always wanted to go to college. I always knew that I wanted to do something with my life. No matter what happened, I needed to keep my eye on the prize.”
Jackson, one of five children, recalls family life been hard; “I was talked down to by people very close to me, called a b—, and a piece of [dirt], and a dumbass. I am no dumbass. I thought there would be support for me at home. There wasn’t.”
Moving to foster care where she spent three years wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t just feel like home and like she belonged.
“I’ve been in foster care system for my second time since the age of 13,” she said. “I’ve been homeless for three years. Oh wow, it’s been a lot. Thank God to my support system and the community. They have helped me along the way and been by my side.”
“She never had stability,” said Belmont Charter principal Genevieve Byrd, who described Jackson as an A and B student with off-the-chart extracurriculars. “In foster families, older kids like Destiny find it harder to be accepted. She’s been with good families, but nothing lasted. There was no forever home.”
For four years, nonprofit New Options More Opportunities in North Philadelphia has assisted at-risk youth like Jackson providing her with resources which has changed her story
Now, Jackson, 18 is living with a new foster family and about to graduate from Belmont Charter High School in West Philadelphia and accepted by more than 50 colleges. 56 precisely. Her choice? Spelman College.
“It’s the home of the sisterhood,” Jackson said, explaining why she turned down Temple and Drexel Universities, along with other HBCUs, not to mention the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Los Angeles, among many others. “It’s the real thing.”
“I’ve been accepted to approximately 56 colleges around the United States,” Jackson said.
Recalling her journey and how hard it was, Jackson, who has Type 1 diabetes, diagnosed at age 3 said as she moved from place to place, she’s carried the extra burden of having to inform whoever the next new person in charge is to be aware that she’s insulin-dependent and can face a health crisis without warning.
“I did struggle with finding homes because a lot of people do not want someone who’s Type 1 diabetic,” she said. “But then I was a teenager as well. It wasn’t something that was good.”
But it all turned out well;
“In teaching everyone about my medical needs, I learned to be an advocate for myself,” Jackson said.
This has helped Jackson develop major self-confidence regardless of the odds surrounding her;
“Self-confidence is a gift inside me,” Jackson said. “But my experiences have shined that gift, making it bright.”
Jackson has launched a GoFundMe page to help with the tuition needed for college as being in foster care limits her ability to apply for student loans without the permanent guardianship often needed.
“I will be double-majoring in political science on a pre-law trek and communications in media,” she said, “with the long-term goal to run for president when I turn 35.”
Jackson has served on numerous committees at youth conferences, served as an advocate for kids dealing with homelessness, has been president and vice president of her school, and has interned with Philadelphia City Council, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Urban League of Philadelphia.