On any given day, one can see Jackson Ellis roaming around Palmetto High School, going to classes and brightening people’s days. He has come to be known for the relentless energy and exuberance he brings to anything he does. It wasn’t always that way though. The journey the Chinese immigrant has gone through to get where he is today hasn’t always been as bright as it would seem.
For the first years of his life, Jackson was homeless with his mother in Nanjing, China. They went wherever the food did, living nomadically to survive. Times weren’t going well, and the family relationship was anything but copacetic. When he could no longer bear it, Jackson ran away from his mother, living alone until a police officer found him and admitted him into an orphanage.
He lived in the orphanage for two years. It was better than being homeless, but hardly an ideal scenario, considering the abuse he had run away from was still present at the orphanage. Jackson’s salvation would come in the form of his adoptive parents, two Americans taking part in an overseas adoption program.
After being brought back to the United States, Jackson faced a heavy language barrier. Knowing little to no English, he would need to learn quickly in order to keep up with others in school. Jackson’s intellect served him well, though, and in three months time he had learned enough English to communicate effectively. With that success, he excelled in school, going beyond his native peers with the hard work and discipline he has come to be known for. Jackson also developed an outgoing personality, making him very endearing to most people he has met.
Now in High School, Jackson is in the AICE program and an active member of multiple sports teams. He has wrestled, swam, and done weight lifting for the school, and he is on pace to graduate with his AICE diploma, on top of working to save money and provide a service to his community. Once he graduates, he wants to go to medical school to become a doctor, and help people even more than he already does.
Arguably more important than Jackson’s personal achievements is what he represents to others. “He’s a fighter,” says Christian Poulin, “[looking at] his upbringing, to how he is now.” He continues, “[he gave] himself a fulfilling life”. Jackson gives credit to the idea that anyone can do well with enough effort, and a little bit of luck. He definitely wasn’t on track to be where he is now 15 years ago, yet he made it. If he can do it, so can many others who had all the advantages he didn’t.