Choosing resilience as a tool for success

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AU’s 2017 Rising Star Alumni award recipient knows a thing or two about resilience. It’s a tool that’s gotten her through some tough times and has provided her the ability to advance in her studies and career.

Athabasca University’s 2017 Rising Star alumna Jennifer Jackson, MN ’15 (photo credit: Burlington Boutique, UK, 2016)

When Master of Nursing graduate Jennifer Jackson completed her AU degree in  December, 2015, she feasted with her family on their Alberta farm, then hopped a plane to England to start her PhD at King’s University College in London.

She’s been there ever since, researching organizational resilience in nursing with the hopes of empowering and educating future nurses to excel in their profession.

Her uncanny knack for seeing health systems from a broad vantage point has been honed through her experiences living across Canada, where she reflected on how the country’s natural landscapes impact the communities within their reach. From the fisheries along the East Coast to the farms in the West – “By living in these places, I’ve had opportunities to get a better understanding of how land and related industry influences the way communities are formed,” says Jennifer.

She went to London armed with extensive nursing knowledge and returned home, for her Alumni Award celebration this Thursday, in Olds, with an even stronger sense of self; all while still riding the momentum of her past
Canadian achievements. From creating a hospital social media campaign to spreading best-practice awareness in diabetes management, to competing in the Chicago Marathon and raising substantial funds for the Canadian Lung Association — a cause that hits close to her chest. For every minute that Jennifer puts into her career and studies as a nurse, she also manages her own health, as a patient with chronic illness.

One breath at a time

Ironically, the resiliency she has studied in critical care nursing has helped Jennifer to become the Rising Star she is today. Every time she has found herself amidst a crisis or challenge — and there have been many this year, alone — from witnessing the Brexit fall-out to being in the vicinity of three attacks of terror in the U.K. — she has been able to invoke her innate talent to pause and reflect on the bigger picture at hand.

Then she comes up with answers, and new ways of examining the situation, the world, and her place in it. Her solutions also help those around her, gifting them with the tools to try to be their best selves, taking each day as it comes, but always looking upward and ahead.

Jennifer’s roots run deep. They are the life force that has allowed five generations to cultivate, mature and thrive on their successful farm operation which they also call home. She never forgets how she got here: Her family in Olds, Alberta, has always had her back, staying faithfully by her side, while respecting their daughter’s life journey and choices along the way – even the ones which, by happenstance, have put her near harm’s way.

But they also know Jennifer’s choices have also led her back to safe harbour and have given her the peace of mind to make her own mark, plant new roots, educate many, and make a difference in the world. Those who have had the opportunity to meet, work or spend time with Jennifer, can rest assured they were definitely brought there, in the right place, at the right time.

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