Taisha Jackson ’20

Program: Dental Hygiene; Hometown: Dorchester, Massachusetts; Scholarship: LLARC Sharing Opportunities Scholarship

When Taisha Jackson ’20 endured health problems that almost ended her life, she made a promise to herself: “When I recover, I will dedicate my life to furthering my life and fulfilling God’s mission for me to help others.”

She was 33 years old with four children when she enrolled in the dental hygiene program at Mount Ida College that was later adopted by Regis when the school closed. In November 2019, the Regis program received the Presidential Choice Award for outstanding contributions to dental hygiene education by the Massachusetts Dental Hygienists’ Association.

“I told my kids even when they were very little, ‘Mommy is going to college one day.’ I tried a few times, taking a course here or there. Then a good friend recommended dental hygiene, which I had considered back when I was 17. At that moment, I knew I was going to give it everything I had.”

But a few years in the program, financial strains turned her life upside down. After falling behind on bills and rent, she reached out to Regis’ student affairs team for advice—specifically Dean of Students Walt Horner.

“Walt was able to direct me to many different avenues to ensure my success, including the Lifelong Learning at Regis College (LLARC) Scholarship. Without direction on how to rearrange my circumstances, I most likely would have struggled intensely my last semester. The support helped me soar to the next level.”

She also has mentors who have encouraged her along the way: Associate Professor of Dental Hygiene Karen Hallisey-Pesa, DMD; Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene Maryse Rodger; and Associate Professor and Program Director of Dental Hygiene Denise Tetreault, MEd. “All three of these women have shaped me into the student I am today. The program is rigorous, and sometimes I lost confidence in myself; but knew I couldn’t let them down.”

Jackson says that her Regis support complements what she receives from her family and friends. “I am grateful for people who have sacrificed to help keep me afloat, especially my fiancé Shakir Wilson, who put his livelihood on hold to support mine. Now I have a future; I have advanced my career and I will have a professional title. I am the second person in my family to obtain a degree. I feel like there are infinite possibilities. I feel empowered to do more and be more.”