Monday, August 15, 2011
Google intern plans to bring social changes back home to Frisco
Ethan Jackson works on issues including homelessness, domestic violence, and mentoring.
When Frisco High School alumnus Ethan Monreal Jackson graduated in 2008, he probably had no idea that his education would take him down the Google brick road.
Jackson, who will finish his senior year at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, is currently majoring in economics, with a double concentration in finance and social impact and responsibility.
In 2008, after graduating from high school, Jackson received the prestigious Ron Brown Scholarship Award, which has only issued as many as 20 scholarships per year, he said.
Jackson was one of 19 other scholars who received the award out of 7,000 applicants. The award is issued based on three criteria that the applicant must meet.
"One, you have to have the academic credentials," Jackson said. "For example, just great SAT scores -- PSAT scores, great grades -- just a history of academic achievement; second, financial need. You need to exhibit some sort of need for the scholarship that they plan to award; and third, you have to have some sort of dedication to community service and leadership."
Jackson said the scholarship is more than merely financial assistance; it also allows scholars to meet with mentors.
"It's about creating a network of aspiring African-American leaders and providing a support group, so it's more than just the $40,000 that they give you, it's kind of creating a family if you will," Jackson said. "So that's been huge, and I couldn't have imagined how important that network would be for me, and I'm only three years removed from it, so I could only imagine how powerful a network it will be down the road."
In June, Jackson joined the Building Opportunities for Leadership and Development internship program at Google.
"To be honest, I applied at a whim, because like many other folks, I viewed Google as a place for computer engineers/ programmers," Jackson said, "Not necessarily people involved in business, when in actuality business is an important support function within Google."
The company, Jackson said, ultimately appealed to him because of its stance on social issues.
"I have always been involved in community service, social impact and responsibility -- even social justice, and to work for a company that stands for those sorts of things really appealed to me," Jackson said.
Jackson, who is finishing his internship with Google this month, is working in real estate planning and lease administration.
"It's not enough for me, especially for or generation, to work for a company to make a living," Jackson said. "I think our generation nowadays asks 'can I make a living, but doing the right thing?' and as Google came to meet that criteria for me, that's how I got involved specifically with the Google BOLD program."
Jackson said he has learned to embrace the Google mantra, "launch early and iterate," which is about "taking the initiative" to try something and see what kind of response is given back. He also said he is "interested in working with Google" after graduating.
Aside from his career aspirations, one of his other goals is to move back to Frisco, where his family lives, once he finishes his education.
"I'm a very proud Texan, I love the community, so I thought I could go back and help out," Jackson said. "I'm very involved in community service at Philadelphia, I've done some community service here in Mountain View, and why not do something for my community back at home, so I figured I could go back and do something there to help spur some sort of change in Frisco and in Dallas."
He said some of the issues he works with the most are homelessness, domestic violence, and mentoring. Jackson said he'd also like to break into the working world before considering graduate school.
"I'd like to come back for a few years and work before pursuing grad school," Jackson said. "I'd probably go out northeast again, but I definitely want to come home before I head back out for anymore schooling -- you can only be outside of Texas for so long."
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