November 24, 2020

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Distinguished Alumni, GOLD Honorees Deliver Commencement Address at VSU: MEET GALA JACKSON

Gala Jackson

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University will celebrate its 230th Commencement with a series of four in-person ceremonies — three for undergraduate students and one for graduate students — on Monday, Dec. 14, at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.

VSU will recognize graduates from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at 9 a.m.; Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration and College of the Arts at 12:30 p.m.; James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services, College of Science and Mathematics, and College of Nursing and Health Sciences at 4 p.m.; and Graduate School at 7:30 p.m. Graduates from Fall 2020, Spring 2020, and Summer 2020 have been invited to participate.

Instead of the traditional commencement keynote speaker, each ceremony will feature a compilation video message from VSU's 2020 Distinguished Alumni and Graduate of the Last Decade honorees — all of whom are excited to have the opportunity to offer words of encouragement and wisdom to the graduates and to have the privilege of inspiring a new class of creative, conscious, and caring Blazers ready to meet the needs of a changing global society.

GALA JACKSON, COLLEGE OF THE ARTS DISTINGUISHED ALUMNA OF THE YEAR, graduated from VSU with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Speech Communication in 2006 and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership in 2008.

VSU: What advice do you have for current and future graduates of VSU?

Gala Jackson: Stay curious and commit to being a life-long learner. Take the leap. Pursue the goals and dreams that scare you the most in your life and career. It always pays off in the end.

VSU: When you look back on your time as a student at VSU, what achievements are your biggest points of pride?

Gala Jackson: Graduated magna cum laude. Earned the Wesley Ren Christie Scholarship and the Georgia HOPE Scholarship. Joined Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association’s official honor society at four-year colleges and universities. Served as a nationally certified diversity facilitator, an orientation leader, and chairwoman of LeaderQuest. Selected for Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.

About Gala Jackson (Professional Biography)

Gala Jackson is a certified executive career and leadership coach and the founder and chief executive officer of InterviewSnob, a boutique consulting firm designed to elevate women to senior and executive leadership positions within Fortune 500 organizations. Her corporate clients and partnerships list includes Microsoft, Walmart, The Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Southern Company, Georgia Municipal Association, ROAM, and more. Her individual clients have secured visible leadership positions with NASA, Nike, Delta, JP Morgan Chase, Honeywell, Boston Scientific, Chick-fil-A, WellStar, North Highland Group, and similar prominent organizations. She has served clients in 40 of the 50 states and in six countries.

As a national keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, Jackson has been on stages at 250-plus events throughout the country. One of her most notable endeavors was serving as the national spokesperson for Southworth by Neenah Paper Inc.’s “Land the Job” campaign, becoming both the youngest and first woman of color to represent the leading consumer retail brand of paper used by President Abraham Lincoln. She is also a 2017 TEDxSpeaker for TEDxKennesaw State.

Prior to launching her business, Jackson was a higher education leader and faculty member working for VSU, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, and most recently, Kennesaw State University. During her time in higher education, she led the most extensive and award-winning academic support program, Supplemental Instruction, at Georgia State University, helping the institution become a national model for student retention and partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

With a commitment to community service, Jackson was a VSU Alumni Association Board Member for 12 years, becoming the youngest board member to serve. She became co-founder and president of the VSU Alumni Chapter of Atlanta and established the chapter’s annual scholarship fundraiser, which generated $10,000 during its first year for designated students from the Metro Atlanta area.

Jackson has also served as a board member for the Showcase Group, an organization designed to support young adults impacted by the juvenile justice system; secretary for the Urban League of Greater Atlanta Young Professionals, an auxiliary of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta; advisory board member for the Georgia Institute of Technology Horizon’s Atlanta Program supporting underserved children in K-5th grades; board member for the National Resume Writer’s Association; and co-founder and former co-chairwoman of MetroOne Young Professionals in partnership with the City of Valdosta and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce.

Jackson currently resides in Metro Atlanta with her family. When she is not working on her goal to visit 50 states by 50, she is actively maintaining her reign as "Auntie of the Year" to her nieces and nephews.

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