Silver Lake College freshman Shamir Jackson isn’t the first in her family to attend college.
However, she is determined to be the first to graduate with a four-year degree.
The 19-year-old nursing major from Milwaukee is a recipient of a number of grants, including a $2,900 Wisconsin Tuition Grant and a $1,000 Wisconsin Talent Grant.
“The grants helped me in a major way because I have a mom who’s a single parent and takes care of two children,” said Jackson, the oldest of three siblings. “The grants helped me get through my first year of college.”
Jackson chose nursing not only because she enjoys caring for others, but because she wants to make sure she can take care of herself as well.
“It’s a good profession to go into. I’ll always have a job,” Jackson said, citing a generation of Baby Boomers who are requiring more care as they age.
Jackson’s introduction to nursing came early, when she got a little plastic nursing kit as a girl and pretended to listen to her cousin’s heartbeat with her toy stethoscope, Jackson said with a laugh.
She became familiar with the healthcare industry through her mother, who works in scheduling at a Milwaukee hospital, and her aunt, who is a nurse practitioner in Milwaukee.
“She’s an inspiration,” Jackson said of her aunt. “She had two kids, she needed work. She went into nursing for the money, but fell in love with the profession.
She told me if I ever needed help, she’d always be there to help me.”
It was in her sophomore year at Messmer High School in Milwaukee that Jackson decided on her career path.
She chose to continue her education at Silver Lake College because SLC offers a nursing education program in partnership with Bellin College of Nursing in Green Bay.
Jackson wanted to attend college close to home, yet wanted to have the experience of living in the dorm and interacting with new people, she said.
She also liked its size. The classes are small and the teachers — as well as fellow students — are always available to help her when she needs it, Jackson said.
“It’s easier to concentrate on my studies in this environment,” she said.
On an earlier visit to Silver Lake College, an advisor urged Jackson to earn her Certified Nursing Assistant certificate.
Jackson did just that while she was still in high school and gained valuable clinical experience working with the elderly in a nursing home. It helped convince her she was making the right career choice.
“I like working with people, helping the elderly, taking care of the sick,” she said. “I like that I will be doing something for the community. I feel good knowing that I’ll be helping those who need special attention.”