Star-Quana Jackson

Star-Quana Jackson
Gender and Sexuality Studies
Albany, NY

What I love about history is that through critical analysis and careful research, it is able to provide an insight or provide a voice to people, places, and things once thought to not have a story. Through history the unknown becomes the known.

Coming here to St. Lawrence, I would have never imagined becoming a history major. In fact, I had no idea what I wanted to study because of the limitless possibilities. Growing up, I was always a history bluff; I just found it so fascinating, although the history courses that I could take were very limited. I feel that one cannot learn and understand the complexities of the future without first knowing and understanding the complexities of the past. Have you ever heard the saying, “History repeats itself”? It wasn’t until the second semester of my sophomore year when I fell in love with a special topics course co-taught by Professors Liz Regosin and Jennifer Hansen. In this special topics course called “Behind Bars,” we studied the history of discipline and punishment here in the United States from the colonists, to the Quakers, eventually leading up to the world of today. This course sparked my interest because I was able to connect an academic field of study to a personal experience of mine. Growing up, I was the child of an incarcerated parent, never truly understanding what prison actually was. This same semester I also took another history course taught by Professor Regosin, called African-American History 1865-Present. Never have two courses that I’ve taken intertwined with one another so much that it was difficult to create a distinction between the two. From taking both of these courses, I have learned that the ‘criminalman’ perceptions of African Americans today (males especially) didn’t just begin, but lie historically embedded in the perceptions of slaves and freedmen. One thing I want to mention that I am so grateful for is the fact that I was able to learn things about my history that I had never before heard. The atrocities of Rosewood as well as the trial of the Scottsboro Nine are just a few of the many events revealing the untold history of African American life.

My future plans are to go on to grad school to study public policy, possibly go to law school, but my ultimate goal is to obtain my doctorate. I want to be an example. An example that exemplifies that you can become anything in life that you dream, you just have to believe in yourself. Once you believe in yourself, other people will believe in you too. That belief (faith) in me is actually how I got here to SLU in the first place. I am an Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity program (HEOP) scholar. The HEOP program provides children from educationally and economically disadvantaged families the education that they so rightfully deserve. I am also a Ronald E. McNair scholar as well. Teaming up with Professor Regosin once more, I was able to further my research about prisons, ultimately looking at the phenomenon now deemed mass incarceration. I wanted to figure out the driving forces behind African Americans comprising 13% of the total U.S. population but almost half of the prison population. If it wasn’t for these two history classes my passion for research may have never emerged in the way that it has.