Susan E. Jackson ’80

Member of Parliament of Bermuda, corporate communications specialist

What advice would you give to a girl graduating from Williston today?   

The world is your oyster. Every opportunity to grow and excel is available to you unlike any time in our history. Far beyond the women who proceeded you is an open invitation to the possibilities. Explore your interests and talents with the view to success. There will always be challenges, the difference for you today is that there is so much more support available to you to assist you in making a positive impact on your personal development and the broader communities in which you serve.

The aspiring woman also assumes the responsibility to contribute to the future strengthening of female equity and equality. Whether a young woman chooses to lead by example in their chosen life pursuits or takes a more civic role to improve standards for all, the successes of each woman signifies the ‘ripple affect’. Every effort, every success symbolizes the pebble splash in the pond to the eternal rings of infinity.

Tell us about a woman who is your hero and why?

Louise Jackson MP, JP, my mother and hero. She raised me by setting the example of the highest standards and presented herself, daily, as a role model. Her ‘you can do this’ approach to life removed many insecurities and demonstrated successful accomplishments are in reach. Learning the rules and persevering with the highest standards no matter the obstacles was her motto.

My mother’s entrepreneurial spirit guided her to pursue her dreams in a foreign land and build a national reputation as the premier Director of The Jackson School for the Performing Arts which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. Her reputation catapulted her to become an elected Member of Parliament for the Government of Bermuda. She went on to be a mighty voice for women, seniors and healthcare which led to positive outcomes for so many that she became a living icon before her passing.

My mother selflessly guided me to understand the importance of defending those unable to defend themselves and she demonstrated how a voice is heard. Her words and actions led me to understand the importance of recognizing my purpose and sticking to my path. She took advantage of the time she spent with U.S. Presidents, Queens and Princesses to listen carefully and remain a lifelong learner rather than basking in the glory of success.

What do you think is next for women in your professional field?

Politics may be one of the most difficult, male dominated, professions. Simultaneously, there are many more female heads of government than ever before. In the same instance, women entering politics remains a struggle due to the systemically male dominated model of governance. Women in politics face the challenge of establishing equity by advocating for fair and innovative advancements if governmental procedures. It is also through the example of women to have our voices heard and received in a tone that resonates with male colleagues and by the broader community.

My interpretation of the next generation women in politics is to remain confident in advocating for equal opportunities within the Halls of Government and more importantly, giving voice to those historically not heard.

What motivates you in your work and life?

Defending and advocating for those unable to speak for themselves and be heard. These motivations were born through motherhood and speaking on behalf of my children and the opportunities they deserved but were unable to advocate for themselves. The confidence and motivation achieved through the successful development of my children then extended to the community through my early professional days to my current role as a public servant.

There’s little more gratifying to me than to be in the company of someone I’ve helped by speaking up on their behalf and watching them grow into their own comfort level to stand up for themselves. Seeing those who’ve found their voice from a spark I may have ignited and watching each one gain their strength and independence to advocate on their own behalf is what gets me up in the morning.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

This is a tough one. We all receive so much advise over the years. Maybe the best advice is to listen to advice and make one’s own determination to proceed based on one’s moral compass, level of expertise and impact on those directly impacted by the advice given. As mentioned previously, the best advice for me is to clearly determine what my personal intentions are and pursuing each task, duty and challenge with steadfast determination, yet having the awareness and flexibility to alter the course or overcome the obstacles with patience and open acceptance that no matter the stumbling blocks, there is a positive solution in pursuit of one’s goals.