This weekend Zia Jackson will become the first member of her family to graduate from college when she receives her degree in Hospitality Management. She says her dad deserves as much credit as she does. “Saturday will be a very emotional day for both of us. My dad has been a big part of this. We have been through a lot together.”
Jerry “Jay” Jackson came from a broken home. When he was a small boy his father left, leaving his mother to raise four sons and a daughter. They grew up poor, living on a steady diet of buttered noodles for weeks at a time.
When Zia was two-years-old her parents split up. Her father raised her. They’ve been inseparable. “We’re both geeks,” she said. “We’ll watch Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings marathons on TV together.”
Zia attended Henninger High School. As she approached graduation day in 2015, going to college was a regular topic of conversation. “He didn’t go to college and he wanted to make sure I did.” After a long day at work he would research information on college-related scholarships, degree programs and internships. His dedication to his daughter’s success motivated her to become a successful student. “Everything I do related to college is for him. He’s worked so hard for me.”
Zia has also worked hard for herself. Besides taking classes full-time she also works 30 hours a week at Panera in Marshall’s Plaza on Erie Boulevard. With her father’s help she’s exploring transfer opportunities. This fall she plans to enroll at either SUNY Delhi or Empire College.