Shirley Jackson, PhD

I always feel a little weird writing about the living instead of the dead because I feel like I cannot do them justice. It is easy to pick out what a person’s legacy was once they have left this world because it is what we remember of them. But when people continuously reach new achievements, how do you choose? Well, today I am going to try to do just that, but please forgive me if I fall short.

Now, the thing about Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson is this woman has been doing her damn thing (pardon my language) for YEARS, and it doesn’t look like she’s stopping anytime soon. It is evident that she is a role model and a person to look up to for young people because she has achieved so much in her career. She attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she obtained all of her degrees, including being the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate degree from the University.

Dr. Jackson is also an inventor, her work has led to many inventions we pride today including: solar cells, fiber optic cables, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting, among others. Now, I’m just going to pause for a second and say that I think inventors are awesome! I have never believed I would be a person who invents something. I am a researcher true, but I have never believed that my work would directly influence new technology. Of course I know that it can, and hope that someday it will, but that is never my goal when I wake up in the morning. For this reason, I think inventors are remarkable in their own rights.

There was no fancy title for this post, no sugar coating anything, just the facts. I also specifically chose to have this post live on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, commonly observed as a day of service. Dr. Jackson’s service, to me, is obvious. She is a woman who chased success and an icon for many women that I know. On another note, as President Obama is on his way out of the White House, looking at the image of Dr. Jackson being honored by a great president gives me hope and strength moving forward. She has obtained so many great honors, and I truly aspire to be that great some day.

Photo credit: RPI president receives National Medal of Science

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