For most students college is a place to prepare and become more equipped for the workforce, in fields they believe they will be able to excel in in order to provide a stable income for themselves and their families. When I came to USM I was like most college students. I was an economics major with plans on going into banking or working for a consulting firm, but with the help of the advising I received in the Honors College, I changed my career path to one to one pursuing my passion for public service.
I was not the best student in high school, so I was not accepted into the Honors College Foundations program before my arrival at USM. However, I applied to be a part of the Honors Keystone program during my sophomore year and was accepted. Because my mother was a teacher at underprivileged schools when I was growing up, I have always had a passion for helping children from underprivileged backgrounds. Upon arriving at USM, I set to work following that commitment by volunteering at schools in the Hattiesburg community. Though I enjoyed serving others, I did not see that as a career option.
The summer after my sophomore year I was accepted to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Congressional Internship and worked as an intern on Capitol Hill. I dug deeper into the possibility of a career in public service, but still had some reservations. I came back to Hattiesburg for the fall semester and through the advisement of staff in the Honors College, specifically the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, I ultimately decided to pursue my passion of serving underprivileged students, which was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I had the honor of becoming a 2016 Truman Scholar Finalist focusing on improving the opportunity of students from underprivileged backgrounds. This summer I studied public policy issues at Princeton University after being selected for the Public Policy International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute, a program I was referred to by Honors College staff. Being in the Honors College has not only helped me select the career path I was best suited for, but also helped me achieve in ways I did not think was possible. Honors College To The Top!
Jaylen Hackett - Class of 2017
Economics (Social Science), Political Science