The Path to a Better Life

By: Lesley Manzo (Junior)

Sgt. Jackson is an ROTC instructor at Senn High school, from Zion, Illinois but currently lives in Chicago. Before becoming the family man he is today, Jackson was in the Army. Immediately after graduating high school at the age of 17, his first son was born. This caused him to make a life changing decision of choosing between college or the Army. I will be interviewing him on his decision and its outcome.

Lesley: Can you tell me about when you joined the Army?

Sgt. Jackson: I joined the Army in November 1990 after graduating high school from Franklin High School in Detroit, Michigan. I joined the Army instead of accepting my scholarship to play football and baseball at the University of Kansas. I was what they called a food inspector specialist. I worked in warehouses. I worked with food. I worked with the USDN and the USDEC and a bunch of other government regulators, and then as I moved up in rank I became a sanitation officer which inspects restaurants and things like that.

Lesley: Why did you join?

Sgt. Jackson: I joined the Army  because I was tired of school at the time. Secondly I had a son. He was born as soon as I graduated high school, and he’s my motivation for joining the Army instead of going to college and struggling.

Sgt. Jackson had received a scholarship for football and baseball to go to the University of Kansas but due to the fact that he had a son already, he came to the conclusion that joining the Army would give him and his son a better life.

Lesley: Why didn’t you choose to pursue a sports career?

Sgt. Jackson: Well I was never under the illusion that I was going to be a professional player so I just was using that to go to college. But since I had my son, I figured I better go in the Army. That way I can take care of my son and I’d go to school later.

Lesley: How did being in the Army affect your family back then? Your parents?

Sgt. Jackson: It didn’t affect my family. The only way it really affected my family is the time away I had to spend away from them. Missing things like anniversaries, birthdays those type of things. But it still affected them in a good way because now they were able to be more well rounded because they were around other races, backgrounds and other ethnic groups. Wherever I went they went so they were able to integrate into new communities and it made a better difference in their life I believe.

Lesley: So if you could go back and go to college instead, would you do it?

Sgt. Jackson: No, because I still went to college while I was in the Army. I still graduated with my degree in the Army, so it doesn’t matter if I went or not. Matter fact I think being in the Army still made me a better person and a more mature person and made me be able to do schoolwork and be a parent.

Lesley:So how did being in the Army change you?

Sgt. Jackson: I learned values like, “no excuses, get it done.” It helps you mature and helps you to be able to follow others. In team there’s no “you”. It helps you be a team player, a leader, and helps you accept responsibility for yourself and others and just makes you overall a better person.

Sgt. Jackson has been an ROTC instructor at Senn High school for the past two years teaching freshman and sophomores. The son who he made this life changing decision for, is now 27 years old.

Lesley: So are you happy about the choices you’ve made so far in life?

Sgt. Jackson: Yeah I’m happy about the choices I’ve made.

Lesley: Do you like the person you’ve become?

Sgt. Jackson: I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.

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