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Lift as You Climb

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Kali Jackson

Whenever we get to the next stage in our personal or professional journeys, it is important to recognize those who helped us succeed and remember to uplift others. Having benefited from The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise), Kali Jackson embodies this attitude by “lifting as she climbs.”

Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Jackson graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 2014 at the age of 16 and earned both her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work with a specialization in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy from Western Michigan University by age 21. Reflecting on her formative years, she is appreciative of the resiliency that she gained.

“Our life experiences allow us to be who we are today,” she shared. “You can experience trauma in life and learn to keep going.”

Now a Clinical Supervisor and Therapist for Wedgwood Christian Services in Grand Rapids, this outlook has proven to be an invaluable asset for Jackson.

“I work with girls and young women who have been human trafficked or experienced sexual abuse and are currently seeking safety and therapy,” she explained. “At a very young age I was a victim of intimate partner violence, so I can relate to the people I am serving.”

While hearing accounts of abuse and neglect can be heartbreaking, Jackson finds joy in helping young women discover their inner strength and seeing their confidence grow.

“The most rewarding part about this job is when we are able to discharge a girl successfully and allow her to return home,” she revealed. “For me, the satisfaction comes from watching these women succeed in life when they have been told they were not worth anything but their bodies.”

Jackson is committed to social work and bringing attention to the issue of human trafficking. Eventually, she would like to earn her doctorate and potentially open a private practice. Regardless of what the future holds, Jackson is forever thankful to the community that helped get her to where she is today.

“Kalamazoo will always be home to me,” she asserted. “I think of the city as a thriving community that constantly changes for the better. It has a way of supporting its citizens even in the darkest of times.”

As far as advice for the current generation of Promise Scholars, Jackson offered a pearl of wisdom that we can all appreciate, “On your way up, don’t forget the people that helped you. Always lift as you climb.”

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