Shirley A Jackson | Achievements Can Serve as Inspiration to Others

Document created by Sara Jo Lee on Mar 20, 2020Last modified by Sara Jo Lee on Mar 20, 2020
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Shirley Jackson shares what drives her to achieve more.
My Journey to #AchieveMore
In this era of information overload, it has always amazed me that excuses such as "I just don't have the time" have become a mantra for students and faculty regardless of age, race, religion, gender, or sexual identity. It is convenient if you want to explain why you have not been to the gym in weeks (or months) or why you simply did not meet the assignment or publication deadline even when you had plenty of notice. However, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we have to admit that there are things that we do for which we are willing to make time—the things that we most enjoy. I make time for those things that have a sense of purpose for me professionally or personally. What drives me to achieve more is doing those things that make me better at either who I am or who or what I want to become. Ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed reading and crossword puzzles. I love having my mind challenged. I also want to do things because they look fun and who does not like fun? I remember a conversation with an older African American man on the bus on my way to college when I was an undergraduate student. I cannot recall why but the topic of skiing came up and I said I would like to learn. He looked at me and asked, "Are you sure you're Black?" Years later, while an assistant professor I learned how to ski (although not very well!) and even joined an African American ski club that aimed to increase the number of African Americans who participated in the sport. When I tell my students how I have gone skydiving, skiing, scuba diving, traveled to one of my bucket list destinations, read every book Agatha Christie has written and watched every Alfred Hitchcock film there is, I am showing them that achievements can be breathtaking, beautiful, scary, big or small, but that they are ours. I enjoy what I do as a professor and when I share my achievements, I hope that I am inspiring my students to do what someone else thinks might be silly or something you should not do because you are a woman, or of a particular race, or age. At the end of each term, I look at my students and wonder which ones I will hear from a year from now or perhaps five years or more telling me how much they learned not only about the course material but also about attempting and persevering and how failing was neither an option or an expectation. I also hope I have encouraged them to think about what they learned and to ask questions long after the term has ended and their grades received. Achieving more means never having to say you have learned it all. Achieving more is wondering what is next on your to-do list.

What Drives You to #AchieveMore?