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If you asked Carl Jackson what he’s most thankful for, he’ll tell you two things: his community, and his education. A Strayer alumnus and candidate for Maryland’s 8th District Delegate seat, Carl knows firsthand the value of a good degree. He says his experience at Strayer helped paved the way to his success, and even helped create the springboard for his run for office. Now, he’s focused on giving back to his community by bringing his talents and skills to the political stage, where he hopes to be a force for positive change. He has many ideas of what to fix and how—but he wasn’t always this ambitious. It was his education and life experiences that shaped him into what he is today.
Carl is a Baltimore native of humble beginnings. The oldest of four children in a single parent home, Carl grew up quickly, assuming responsibility of the household and caring for his siblings and disabled grandmother. Growing up, Carl bore witness to many of the area’s economic, social and other struggles. Carl’s desire to amend those issues was what opened his eyes to politics at an early age. He became a political junkie and resolved to volunteer and participate in politics wherever possible. At the time, Carl didn’t expect to become a politician himself—rather, he envisioned a “behind the scenes” role, working to support campaigns and causes he believed in.
But as the family’s eldest and soon to be primary breadwinner, Carl had responsibilities.
After graduating high school, Carl had to immediately go to work supporting his family. He took up a full-time position at the University of Maryland-Baltimore, where he worked long hour days doing student outreach while attending Strayer University at night. It was an exhausting schedule, but Carl loved school—in fact, he loved it so much that he completed his degree in three years instead of the usual four. After securing his bachelor’s degree, Carl stayed at Strayer, going on to earn his MBA just a few years later.
Carl says his experience at Strayer was transformative. While working towards his degree, he met interesting people (now his proud “friends for life”), created lasting relationships with professors, mastered the art of public speaking, and gained valuable communication and business skills. “Strayer influenced me and made me a better person,” he says, “I learned how to communicate effectively. I gained confidence. I started recognizing my own potential.”
So how did he go from business graduate to politician? Carl says it was the current political climate that sprung him to action. Noticing more divisiveness and turmoil in politics than ever before, Carl became very worried about the state of the nation. He felt that there weren’t enough advocates for issues he felt strongly about, especially local issues such as improving city infrastructure, supporting small businesses, and strengthening schools. So, taking inspiration from the words of former president Barack Obama, Carl decided to “become the change.”
When Carl started out, he had the odds stacked against him. But he persevered, worked hard, and got ahead of the game by investing in his education. It wasn’t easy—at times, the journey felt intimidating, difficult, even impossible—but it was well worth it. When asked his advice for prospective students, Carl had this to say: “Just go for it. Be bold. Invest in yourself by investing in your education. It will be the best investment you’ll ever make. Strayer changed my life. If I could do it, so can you.”
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