April 18, 2019  

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Southern Miss Graduate Wilton Jackson Breaks Records, Makes History

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Wilton C. Jackson II

“Leave your mark on Southern Miss.”

It’s a statement heard often around The University of Southern Mississippi campus. Freshmen are asked how they will leave their mark, and seniors are asked: “how did they leave their marks” on the University? Few students, however, have left a mark to match that of 2015 graduate Wilton C. Jackson, II.

Jackson (also the reigning Mr. Southern Miss), hails from Jackson, Miss., and graduated in May with a degree in Journalism. While attending the University, Jackson made history and broke records with his fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi.

Every year Kappa Alpha Psi awards four Guy Levis Grant Awards and three Byron K. Armstrong Scholars Awards. The Grant Award is granted to individuals who have exhibited a combination of student involvement, leadership, academic excellence, community service and fraternity involvement, while the criteria for the Armstrong Scholar Awards are more focused on the academic excellence of the awardees.

Jackson excelled academically and beyond. He became the first individual in the Southwest Province (the largest province in the fraternity) in its 104-year history to simultaneously win both of the prestigious awards. He will be honored during the fraternity’s 82nd Grand Chapter Meeting August 11-15 in New Orleans.

“After becoming a member in the fall of 2012, I can recall meeting Brother John Burrell in the spring of 2013, when he first told me that I would be Kappa Iota's first double recipient of both awards,” Jackson remembers. “I didn't believe him at the time, but as I began to progress through college, earning other awards and special recognitions in Kappa, I began to think I had a chance to compete.”

Compete Jackson did. The award criteria included a mixture of community involvement, student leadership, and academic excellence. Jackson certainly met those criteria. He served as President of the Lambda Sigma Honor Society, secretary for Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society, a three-year RA in Hattiesburg Hall, Chief-of-Staff in African-American Student Organization, and as a member of many other honor societies. Additionally he served as a reporter for The Southerner yearbook and The Student Printz newspaper, as a newsreader and reporter for WUSM 88.5 Southern Miss Today and as a host for WiseGuys Sports Show.

Today Jackson is working as an intern with powerhouse sports network ESPN in Bristol, Conn., and hopes to make it as a sports broadcaster one day. However, while he has both eyes on the future, Jackson has certainly not forgotten his past, and feels deserved pride in his accomplishments.

“These awards aren't simply for me,” he said. “They are a representation of me, my chapter, Southern Miss and those who helped me. I will cherish this moment as another stepping stone toward building a lifetime of achievement.”