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Getting Social

Graduate student speaker toasts friends and peers who helped her through

Jamie Jackson, G’24, gained much more than an education from Bridgewater State University. She’s graduating alongside a group of 15 peers who she knows will be there for her in the years ahead.

Enrolled in the School of Social Work’s Saturday master’s program, Jamie had the unusual experience of sharing her classes with the same group of students. They began as strangers and are graduating as friends and colleagues.

“It really has fostered and cultivated a sense of support and learning and collaboration that I don’t think you’d find elsewhere,” she said. “The cohort model is unique, and I’m so grateful for it. ... These are people I will lean on throughout my social work career.”

Those classroom friends will undoubtedly be cheering wildly for Jamie as she addresses the College of Graduate Studies’ class of 2024 as the student commencement speaker. Jamie wasn’t going to apply for the role. But, as she reflected on her graduate school experience, she felt the need to share her perspective on Bridgewater’s biggest stage.

“What really stood out to me when I was writing (my speech) was how do we lean on one another and show up for one another,” she said. “There’s strength in coming together and collaborating and not going it alone.”

Just a few years ago, Jamie felt very alone. Living in Scotland during the early days of the pandemic, she faced strict lockdown rules. She could only leave her home once a day and couldn’t travel more than five miles.

As the world shut down, the Billerica native started thinking about her future and realized she wanted to return to Massachusetts to serve her home state. Social work was the ideal vocation to pursue that goal and Bridgewater’s Saturday courses allowed her to keep working full-time.

“I think Bridgewater has had an incredible impact on me,” she said. “It has taught me how to think critically, how to step forward when needed, and how to gracefully step back to allow others to step forward.”

Jamie stands out as a leader and advocate for her peers as well as a committed student who often asked insightful questions, said Dr. Leslie Sattler, an associate professor of social work.

“Jamie brings that real-world practice and experience to the classroom, and she also brings that curiosity,” Sattler said.

Jamie appreciates how connected Sattler’s lessons are to her job. She works for the health and human services organization Vinfen as program director of a group home for people with psychiatric conditions. As part of her Bridgewater education, she interned with a school adjustment counselor at Barnstable High School.

After graduation, Jamie looks forward to advancing in her career at Vinfen by becoming a clinician, where she will continue making a direct and tangible difference for people in Massachusetts.

“We can mistakenly look at graduation as an endpoint, but it’s really just the jumping off point,” she said.

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