Local student raising funds to attend leadership conference

Published 12:03 am Thursday, January 5, 2012

By Rod Guajardo/The Natchez Democrat — Robert Lewis Middle School seventh grader Hannah Jackson and her mother Theresa Jackson hold Hannah’s acceptance letter for the National Young Leaders State Conference in Birmingham, Ala.

NATCHEZ — For Robert Lewis Middle School seventh grader Hannah Jackson, this third time could really be the charm.

Three years ago one of Hannah’s teachers recommended her to attend the National Young Leaders State Conference, which was in Washington, D.C., that year.

The weeklong conference brings together future leaders from across the country and provides seminars in topics such as law and society and democracy in action.

After receiving the letter of acceptance and feeling extremely proud, Hannah’s mother, Theresa Jackson, knew there was no way she could send her daughter to the conference.

“I opened the letter and saw how much it would cost and was devastated because I had to tell her she couldn’t go,” Theresa said.

Working three different jobs seven days a week left little room for non-essential costs and Theresa said there was no room in the family budget for the conference.

Hannah kept studying, continued to make straight As and joined Beta club, Student Government Association and Future Business Leaders of America before receiving another acceptance letter the following year.

“I’m a very dedicated student and was very proud to get those letters,” Hannah said.

Theresa said the conference was in Birmingham that year and was a more reasonable price, but she had just started a new job and couldn’t afford the payment.

When another acceptance letter arrived this year for the conference in Birmingham, Theresa knew this was her daughter’s time.

“I just looked at her and said ‘With the help of God, we’re going to do this,” Theresa said.

The mother and daughter duo reached out into the community for support to seek sponsors to help pay the cost of attending the conference.

Theresa said two local churches and the Sunshine Children’s Center were interested in donating money, but that they are still looking for other donations.

“I would really like for her to go, and I really appreciate anyone who is willing to help this dream come true,” Theresa said.

Hannah said she sees attending the conference as an opportunity to develop herself into a potential leader.

“I see myself as a leader because of my grades and good behavior,” Hannah said. “I’m excited to go, and meet with other young leaders. A group is better than one.”

With high hopes of becoming a crime scene investigator, Hannah said the conference might not help her with forensic skills, but will help her grow as an individual.

“The schools need leaders and I hope to be one of those leaders one day,” Hannah said.

Hannah is hoping to raise $1,500 to cover tuition, accommodations and admission to the conference.

For additional information, contact Theresa at 601-870-2789.

Donations can be sent to 202 Brookfield Drive, Natchez, MS 39120.

The deadline for all donations is Feb. 1.