Jackson Tate’s nominator has not met Jackson, but he did witness a choice Jackson made to step forward and challenge his community to be better. Here is what happened.
Following a basketball game last spring, Jackson noticed a social media post that portrayed a fellow student working the event. The post was meant to make fun of the student's disability and the diligent work he was doing to maintain public health by enforcing the mask policy in Cassell Coliseum.
In response to this, Jackson posted, “This student’s differences do not outweigh the fact that he is one of us. In fact, he is the most passionate and dedicated Virginia Tech fan I have EVER met in my life."
Jackson took an opportunity to use social media to highlight this student's place in our community. He drew attention to the humanity of the student and courageously challenged his community to see this humanity as well.
And the likes and retweets piled up.
His nominator said, “Courageous leadership means having the fortitude to speak up when you witness an injustice and reach out to those who are vulnerable, marginalized, or in need. While I do not know the day-to-day life of Jackson, this one quick act to speak loudly against disrespect and bullying leads me to believe that there is a foundation of values acting within his life that perfectly align with an ongoing appreciation for courageous leadership. Virginia Tech is fortunate to have everyday students like Jackson doing their part to influence the community.”
Though his nominator did not know it, Jackson is in fact a member of the Cassell Guard Executive Board, an elite group of die-hard Virginia Tech Basketball fans selected each year to boost fan interaction and provide a sense of community around Hokies Hoops. They improve the student section experience and play an integral role in creating a more unified and inclusive cheering section for Virginia Tech Basketball.
Jackson said, “At basketball games, when things get disrespectful, vulgar, or inappropriate, I always strive to make sure the student section stays positive. Courageous leadership is not being afraid of backlash in order to make the right or difficult decision. I support equal rights and treatment for all, specifically for, but not limited to, people with disabilities.”
With a history of service to K-12 students, last summer Jackson was a member of the Airfield 4-H Conference Center Leadership Team, where he worked with young people aged 9 to 17, developing character and life skills and teaching marine science.
Jackson will graduate in December with a degree in communications, public relations, and consumer studies. He is a recipient of the Myrtle Liverman Hansen Memorial Scholarship. He would like to work in public relations, either for NASCAR or for Virginia Tech Sports. Jackson, I’d say you have a head start on the Virginia Tech job.
It is a great honor to present the Aspire! Award for PREPARE FOR A LIFE OF COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP to Jackson Tate.