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Spotlight: ESM Alum, Jackson Parker


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We interviewed Jackson Parker, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz, to learn about his college experience, hear his best advice for prospective or current students, and get a sense of his life after ESM.

Though Jackson is a confident Business major (a BA in Business and Managerial Economics, specifically), he wasn’t always set on this direction. Jackson entered Santa Cruz wondering if he’d end up studying something finance related—a familiar content area he liked to learn about and discuss (his dad works in the field)—but he opted to experiment with other course offerings to really explore his interests. Having enjoyed Human Physiology and Bio in high school, Jackson started out as a Human Biology major; he found these courses uninspiring and switched to Computer Science, which, simply put in his own words, he hated. Jackson considered his interests and passions at length, and he ultimately decided to pursue what he’d always found interesting: the world of business.

Jackson shared that he chose UC Santa Cruz for several reasons: he was looking for an inclusive community close-ish to home, and he felt UCSC offered this, plus a diverse student body and more affordable, in-state tuition. “The school environment makes it very easy to integrate your personality, thoughts, and feelings into a melting pot where everyone is in the same boat as a student,” Jackson explained. Though Jackson has enjoyed his time, he was honest with us about the highs and lows of the college experience. “College is a roller coaster of trying to find out who you are,” he shared, and it’s not always easy to navigate newfound independence, friendships, and managing one’s priorities along the way.” Jackson fell into his stride during his Junior year, when he found his core friend group and began to excel academically. He credits this success to both focus and balance: remembering his goals—to maximize his learning and academic performance while simultaneously pursuing his areas of interest.

Outside of his coursework, Jackson is the Treasurer of UCSC’s Men’s Club Soccer Team: he manages spending and provides a yearly budget for the Athletic Director. He also plays for the club soccer team, and has since the fall of his freshman year. Jackson’s also on the Sports Club Advisory Committee, where he works to help teams organize their finances. He’s found that this extracurricular involvement affords him the opportunity to marry his academic and non-academic interests, while also introducing him to new people and responsibilities.

After graduation, Jackson plans to work in his interest area—likely financial analysis—back home in the Bay Area. Over the next few years, he’s looking forward to earning his CFA and gaining some in-field work experience before applying for an MBA.

Jackson’s advice? He says authenticity is the most important factor in choosing the right college: he’s found that selecting a school that feels right—while also considering learning environment, size, and community— is best to ensure a successful, well-rounded college experience. Once you’re there, Jackson advises to let your interests dictate your major and ultimate career path: it’s worth exploring your options instead of boxing yourself into what you think you should be studying. Finally, Jackson notes the importance of relationships, friendships, and community: surrounding yourself with people who share your values, who don’t distract you from your goals, is a crucial ingredient to your success. It’s OK if it doesn’t all click perfectly right away—sometimes it takes time to find your path, even at the right school.