In order to earn the trip of a lifetime, Scotland sophomore honor-roll student and athlete Kytel Collins-Jackson had to write a short essay detailing the importance of taking such a trip.
The essay combined with Collins-Jackson’s exceptional academic record made him a prime candidate for the ‘People to People’ Ambassador Program, which is aimed at raising global awareness through the interaction of different cultures from around the world.
And as one of 42 high school students selected from more than 400 from throughout North Carolina, Collins-Jackson will pack his bags in June of 2013 for a 20-day educational odyssey throughout Europe, including stops in Greece, Italy and France.
And while he’ll barely be halfway through his high school career by then, Collins-Jackson sees the journey as one which will help him reach new horizons as a student, and perhaps most importantly, as a person.
“I’ts going to expand my knowledge of both history and other cultures, and it’s a big deal for me because of how hard I worked to earn this chance,” Collins-Jackson said. As a member of the Fighting Scots, Collins-Jackson participated on both the varsity soccer and cross country teams at SHS, and has plans of running the 4X8, open 800 and mile when track and field begins in early 2013.
“It’s amazing to experience something like this hands-on, because going forward I’ll be interacting with all sorts of different people and cultures in the future,” he said.
A military man for 13 years, Scotland County Sheriff’s Office deputy Preston Jackson had the chance to see the world. From Korea to Kosovo to France, deputy Jackson’s service to the United States Army eventually led him back to America, where he was to meet wife of 17-years Gyivan.
Kytel was born at Fort Bragg, N.C.; and now as he glimpses the young adult his son has become, deputy Jackson sees the 15-year-old’s forthcoming journey overseas as not just an example of one kid’s dedication to setting a goal and accomplishing it.
It’s also an opportunity for his son to follow in the footsteps he once traveled, en route to becoming a productive future citizen.
“I want my son to be well-rounded as a person, someone who can relate to the challenges we’re facing in Scotland County and our nation,” Deputy Jackson said. “Kytel earning this chance symbolizes that a kid from this community can set his mind to something and put in the hard work and dedication to grab it. I’m so proud of him.”
Despite the picturesque locations that his fellow students will visit, Collins-Jackson’s trek is no mere sight-seeing excursion.
Collins-Jackson will play the role of student ambassador, and he will be expected to be well-versed in the culture and government of each country. He will meet with his fellow ambassadors once a month until the trip and learn customs, currencies, languages and prominent political figures.
Being a student ambassador is not something unfamiliar to Collins-Jackson, as he currently participates in the Technology Science Association, Student Adisory Council, Key Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
But the road to making the trip happen is not without challenges: Collins-Jackson has been tasked with raising $7,600 to cover his expenses including travel, room and board.
Fortunately for the Collins-Jackson family, the residents of Scotland County have already proven, as they have in the past, that they are willing to support one of their own.
An upcoming bake sale (held at Scotland County’s Clerk of Court) and a fundraiser raffle (held at the Sheriff’s Office) both occurring this Valentine’s Day are but two examples of the local community responding to the Collins-Jackson family’s need for financial help. The Sheriff’s Office fundraiser will award prizes including an I-Pad Mini, 42” LCD TV and $100 cash to raffle winners.
“The support we’ve already received has been surreal and phenomenal,” Gyvian Collins-Jackson said. “From schools and churches we don’t attend to perfect strangers, it humbles us to be part of a community that wants to see someone from here succeed.”
And one local church in particular who has adopted Collins-Jackson’s cause has but a single request of the SHS sophomore.
“Some of their members of Newlight Holiness Church said they never had the chance to do something like this, and they were excited to help us,” Deputy Jackson said. “All they ask of Kytel is that he documents his experience and shares it with them.”
Want to help make Kytel Collins-Jackson’s trip happen? Here are three ways to donate:
1. Log on to payment.peopletopeople.com and enter ‘Collins-Jackson’ along with Delegate ID#10169053
2. Mail a check or money order to P.O. Box 1014 Wagram, N.C. 28396
3. Contact Deputy Preston Jackson (910-778-6194) or Mrs. Gyivan Collins-Jackson (910-884-8730)
*To enter the Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) raffle, please contact Deputy Preston Jackson at the phone number listed above.