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Saturday, September 23, 2023

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Portrait of Leah Jackson Portrait of Leah Jackson

Joy in Giving Back

SDSU student and peer mentor Leah Jackson finds joy in helping other students achieve their potential.
By Ryan Schuler

“SDSU has helped me be successful through accessibility. I always feel like I have someone to turn to or a resource there to help me.”

When San Diego State University student Leah Jackson was young, she spent summers in Ohio with her family. While there, she volunteered at a food pantry, assisting with setting up shelves and helping those in need gather food items.

She loved every minute of it, and her passion for giving back was born — a passion that continues to this day.

“I’ve always loved volunteering,” said Jackson, a sophomore majoring in urban studies with an emphasis in planning design and management. “I’ve always volunteered at animal shelters, but my experience at the food pantry pushed me to give back and make the world a better place.”

Now at SDSU, Jackson is giving back in a different way. She is an academic mentor on the Black Excellence Floor, a residential learning community in South Campus Plaza that provides a safe and affirming environment for Black freshman students as well as educational and social programming and guidance to campus resources and organizations.

As the academic mentor, Jackson works with the nearly 30 residents on the Black Excellence Floor to review their academic schedules, provide guidance on academic resources available to students and facilitate student visits to the Students Taking Academic Responsibility (STAR) Centers located in several residence halls.

“It has been beautiful. I have a connection with my residents, and they have someone they can turn to,” said Jackson. “It feels safe. I want to help Black students to be their best selves. I want them to thrive during their college years, not just survive. I want them to know they have the capability to be their best selves, and that I’m here to support them.”

Jackson first became involved with the Black Excellence Floor through her participation in the Henrietta Goodwin Scholars program, which supports Black students through academic and social programming. The program and the Black Resource Center were main reasons Jackson chose to attend SDSU, and she hopes to continue growing the Black Resource Center and Black Excellence Floor. 

“I came here and felt comfortable in my skin,” Jackson said. “We have a Black space on campus, and it inspires you. I’m looking forward to how we can make it grow and create a legacy here.”

Jackson says the Black Resource Center and the university have given her the resources and skills to succeed.

“SDSU has helped me be successful through accessibility. I always feel like I have someone to turn to or a resource there to help me. I love my time here, and I want to make sure students graduate ready for the adult world.”