Raven Jackson

Even sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic can’t stop this high school junior from developing her keen eye for visually capturing landscapes.

“I want to be a professional photographer,” Raven says. “I was in a summer camp when I was about 9 or 10 and the counselors gave us cameras. I took photos and published them on social media. We learned how to edit and use a darkroom. I like nature photography. Last summer I found an abandoned building, but there was beauty there, with nature behind it.”

Raven has kept up her passion. At in-person school events before America’s school districts transitioned into distance learning mode, Raven often took photos. Some of her work was used in her school’s yearbook.

She sees a college education as the vehicle that will help her launch a photography career, so last year she applied and was admitted to Pathways to College.

“People who were in it before me told me about Pathways,” Raven says. “Since I’ve been in it, we’ve been speaking about college opportunities and having virtual college tours. I knew where I wanted to go college, but not what to go there for. Older kids gave me ideas of where to look, what to study and how to do more research.”

Raven says only a few of her family members before her have attended college. She has family in the South and she says she’d like to attend college where she has her support system nearby. The familial atmosphere of Pathways sessions, at which Raven says, “everybody is comfortable with everyone else and everyone is included,” appeals to her.

Still, Raven maintains a decidedly independent streak.

“I don’t follow other people,” Raven says. “I can find a different way in finding solutions. I’m quiet and I like to include other people who are quiet also. Pathways taught me that everyone will have opinions and not all of them deserve feedback. When we have group discussions, sometimes it’s best as a leader to acknowledge feedback, but in a polite way let them know you disagree.”