Wayne State University
Jacqueline Wilson is Wayne State University’s First Lady and Founding Director of the HIGH Program: Helping Individuals Go Higher – a creative initiative to help motivated, homeless students realize their dreams of earning a college degree.
A native of Dallas, Texas, Wilson honed her gifts as a volunteer champion of health, safety, and education in the big cities of Los Angeles, New York, and D.C. – all while shattering sales records in the competitive business of technology development.
In 2013 – after just days in her new community at Wayne State – Wilson’s grassroots instincts opened her eyes to the little-known problem of homelessness among college students. No one has ever described Wilson as being patient; Within a month, she founded the HIGH Program – with a mission of supporting the previously “invisible” students who struggle to balance their Wayne State University studies with meeting life’s most basic needs of food, shelter, and childcare. Today, the HIGH Program engages some 30 volunteers to run the program on a shoestring and preserve precious resources for its core mission. A joyful mentor, First Lady Wilson’s accessibility and fiery, no-nonsense approach have made her a favorite of her volunteers and Wayne’s students alike, with whom she meets daily.
As a savvy businesswoman and entrepreneur, Wilson has already implemented ways for the HIGH Program to do better: She developed key performance indicators and tracks not only each student’s performance and success, but also how the program is performing as a whole. To date, the HIGH Program has assisted more than 100 students with financial resources and referral services. So far, the HIGH Program has enabled 15 students to earn their degrees, with others scheduled in the next year.
Wilson’s work in the Detroit community has already distinguished her as a Comcast Newsmaker and one of the Michigan Chronicle’s 2015 Women of Excellence, and Covenant House Michigan Board of Director. Her service to her past communities include the Professional Communications Association of Los Angeles, the Magic Johnson Foundation and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.