Campus: CSU Bakersfield -- May 30, 2003

CSUB Professor Awarded Coveted Fulbright Fellowship

Calling herself "a girl from the hood," Elizabeth Jackson, born and raised in Compton, California, said receiving the distinguished Fulbright award epitomizes everything she's ever wanted to do.

"Growing up, I thought perhaps I was capable of doing or becoming anything I could dream of," Jackson said. "Yet even if I dreamed myself to be irrepressible and unstoppable, racism seemed to lurk nearby to try to convince me otherwise."

Nonetheless, Jackson, a communications professor at California State University, Bakersfield, recently received the U.S. Fulbright award. The program, established by the U.S. Congress in 1945 by J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, was developed to promote "mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world."

Fulbright grants are given to academicians from the U.S. and other countries for a variety of educational activities including lecturing, advanced research, graduate study and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. Each year, 800 scholars are sent to more than 140 countries to carry out these activities.

"This is a very esteemed privilege among academicians," said CSUB President Tomas Arciniega. "We are very privileged to have professors like Dr. Jackson teaching at our university and honored that she will be representing us and our community abroad."

A Fulbright fellowship is one of the most esteemed honors bestowed upon university professors. Over the course of CSUB history, less than a dozen professors have received a Fulbright award. Though typically awarded to professors from large, research universities, Jackson said many CSUB professors are worthy of the honor.

"Although the honor was bestowed upon me this time I think that if the Fulbright award could be extrapolated to our entire CSUB professorial community, so many of my colleagues would be worthy of this particular honor," Jackson said. "Even though we're a relatively small regional university, we have extraordinary faculty members here."

Jackson began teaching at CSUB in 1989 after receiving her doctorate in radio, television and film from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. She also has a master's degree in radio, television and film from Northwestern and a master's degree in clinical psychology from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. Jackson received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Jackson wrote, produced and hosted an Ethiopian television program called "English for Us TV," while volunteering for the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help. She also received an award for best documentary from the Hollywood Black Film Festival 2000 for her film, "Surviving Abyssinia" - an underground film she produced documenting her experiences in Ethiopia.

"I initially created that film for African-Americans because they have this romanticized idea of what Africa is. We like to don the ancestral dress and talk-the-talk, but when it comes to the day-to-day reality of what Africa is really like, African-Americans don't know that," she said.

Through the Fulbright program, Jackson will leave for Gweru, Zimbabwe in August to begin teaching communications at Midland State University. During her Fulbright program, she will also teach one semester for the Institute for Shipboard Education. Jackson will travel around the world teaching for the Semester at Sea program beginning in January 2004. She'll then return to Africa to complete her Fulbright fellowship.

Having experienced racial and gender bias throughout her life and career, Jackson said the Fulbright will help her continue to achieve her life-long goal of helping individuals overcome biases through the communication process.

"I'm absolutely ecstatic about this opportunity, which I believe will allow me to further the work I deem important now that I have the validation of the Fulbright. It will allow my intellectual life to grow and perhaps make my ideas and suggestions more well received," she said.

CONTACT: Becky Zelinski, 661/664-2138, bzelinski@csub.edu or Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu


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