Emory friends leave enduring legacy

"When we were younger and I was with Angela in Holly Ridge, an elderly woman from the community came up and took Angela's hand and said to me: 'This is our college girl, this is our Emory girl. We don't have too many around here, we are so proud of her.'" -Katie Constantine 98C (with Angela, right, a few years after Emory)

Friendship often takes on a life of its own, blooming and expanding as experiences are shared, victories celebrated, and losses endured. For Katherine Constantine 98C, friendship with Angela Jackson 98C 09B became integral to her existence at Emory. “Angela possessed an intelligence, resilience, and sense of generosity that were unparalleled,” says Constantine of the friend she met in Turman Hall as an incoming freshman.

The two girls hailed from two very different worlds. Constantine’s family life was rooted in suburban New York City and Miami, while Jackson grew up in the Holly Ridge public housing complex in Atlanta. Facing adversity was second nature for Jackson, whose father was murdered when she was just fourteen. After she graduated from Benjamin E. Mays High School, Jackson enrolled at Emory University. “She worked two jobs, helped take care of her younger brothers and sisters, and attended Emory full time,” Constantine says.

As a sophomore, Jackson relinquished life in a dorm and moved home to help raise her siblings. Jackson graduated from Emory College in 1998, attained her Emory Master of Business Administration in 2009, became a mentor, and went on to work and marry. Challenging personal times once again caused Jackson to endure struggle and emotional upheaval. Even so, “Angela managed multiple responsibilities without uttering a single complaint, as she always faced adversity with grace and perseverance.”

When Jackson’s life tragically ended in 2011, Constantine acknowledged, “Angela’s departure created a great void in the lives of all who knew her. I learned so much about life from Angela, about facing inequity, ignorance, and prejudice with unbelievable strength and dignity.”

“Angela dedicated her life to her family and helping others, and it is essential that her legacy of hard work and generosity lives on.” Constantine is partnering with the development staff of Emory College of Arts and Sciences to raise $100,000 as part of Campaign Emory to ensure that Jackson’s exemplary character and actions inform future generations of Emory University students. By establishing the Angela Jackson Endowed Scholarship Fund, she hopes to broaden the community reach of her best friend’s inspiration. “The idea that this scholarship may be infinite is such a beautiful thing. This could touch the lives of people who have been in circumstances like Angela’s and might alleviate some of the pressure of having to work while in school. These deserving students will be free to concentrate on education and the Emory experience.”

Through collaboration with the Jackson family, Constantine explains, “This endowment will bestow scholarships each year to a student from Atlanta Public Schools who demonstrates financial need and exhibits a strong commitment to family and community.” Candidates under consideration for the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship and the Benjamin E. Mays Scholarship will also be considered for the Angela Jackson Endowed Scholarship. With more than half of the funds needed to endow the scholarship raised to date, Constantine hopes to surpass the funding goal “so the endowment will exist as long as the university is in existence.”

Learn more about Campaign Emory or make your online tax-deductible gift to the Angela Jackson Endowed Scholarship.

–Michelle Valigursky