Graduating student reflects on journey


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Graduating student Elijah Jackson points to the audience as he delivers the student address during one of Dallas College’s commencement ceremonies June 25 at the Curtis Culwell Center.

Briana Campos, Layout Editor

Dallas College student Elijah Jackson proudly ascended the stage, making his way to the podium at Curtis Culwell Center in Garland on June 21. Beatriz Joseph, vice chancellor of student success, announced Jackson as a Dallas County Promise graduate. Jackson, donning his bright royal blue cap, was met with cheers from the crowd.

In his speech, Jackson spoke about his plans to join law enforcement due to his passion for serving and protecting others. Jackson recalled telling his mother and grandmother he wanted to be a police officer when he was younger. “I just saw a policeman in uniform and knew,” he said. As the spotlight on police brutality continued to grow in 2020, Jackson said it cemented his desires to pursue law enforcement to carry out change.

Born and raised in Dallas, Jackson is the youngest of five children. When he was four years old his mother died in an accident, leaving his father as primary caretaker for Jackson and his siblings. He said he had a good childhood, and continues to have a strong bond with his family. “My biggest supporter is my dad,” Jackson said. “He always encouraged me as a young kid and he kept it real with me. He supported me in the highest form.”

Jackson’s older sister, Shun Anderson, said she is proud of her brother for what he has accomplished.

Despite their 13 year age difference, the pair have always remained close. “I actually picked him up from school, his first and second grade year walked him to and from school,” Shun said.

Anderson is concerned for her brother and his dream of joining law enforcement. “He’s a strong-headed person and he’s always been that way,” Shun said. “I’ve always supported him. We need strong Black people to represent the law enforcement.”


Jackson said he never considered college an option due to financial constraints, but changed his mind when he was presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with Dallas County Promise. This initiative was launched in 2018 and allows students to earn two free years of community college.

“It was a blessing and I encourage anyone coming up to take advantage of it,” he said.

First Lady Jill Biden joined the graduation ceremony via a pre-recorded video. Biden praised the Dallas County Promise initiative and shared how it helped more students in receiving access to a college education. “There were students in that auditorium who had never imagined that they would be able to go to college, but with Dallas County Promise that far-off possibility was suddenly in reach, and they knew it would change their lives,” she said.



As Dallas College prepared for its first in-person graduation after the pandemic, Shanee’ Moore, associate dean of student life, engagement and advocacy, was tasked with finding a Dallas College Promise student to address the crowd.

After reviewing a list of student names and stumbled across Jackson’s name. “I had no specific reason to choose him, I just couldn’t get my eyes off his name,” Moore said. After speaking with Jackson over the phone and hearing his story, Moore said she asked him to speak at the ceremony.

Jackson said he was surprised when he found out he had been chosen to deliver the speech. “Not many people get chosen to do something like that. I was really honored.” said Jackson.



With Dallas County Promise providing the groundwork for Jackson, he said he is determined to continue taking steps to pursue his dream of joining law enforcement.

Jackson said he understands there may be obstacles for a Black man aspiring to be a police officer, but it doesn’t discourage him. “I know it’s going to be tough getting through it all just because of the way the world was built,” he said. “If anything it encourages me to overcome another challenge.”

Jackson said he hopes to start out with a local police force, but said he isn’t against the idea of moving. “I can also see myself eventually going to Manhattan one day,” he said.

He plans to start off as a patrol officer to get a better feel for how the job works. To Jackson, the most important part of joining law enforcement is helping communities build better relationships with police officers. “A lot of communities don’t trust the police and I want to be involved to help change that. And strengthening that bond can help both sides,” he said.