“As a high school freshman, my life plan was: go to Duke, have a good time, watch good basketball, probably become a lawyer. I was always curious about the military because my grandfather served in World War 2 with the Tuskegee Airmen, but I didn’t heavily consider it until I joined jROTC in high school and started to enjoy it. It’s a great opportunity to work on leadership skills and contribute to something bigger than yourself. I liked the increasing benchmarks, like rank structure; I graduated jROTC as the highest-ranking cadet. Not wanting my military time to end, I applied to the Air Force Academy. Fortunately, I was accepted.
(Fast forward 10 years to 2021): I was serving in Korea, as a Captain. My career was going well, I hadn’t planned on separating or going back to school yet. But a friend challenged me to apply to grad school with him. I didn’t know where or what I would apply to until I was in my dentist’s office and saw an ad for Duke’s public policy program. I spoke to an MPP student about my background, interests, current events. It was a tumultuous time– the height of the pandemic, the George Floyd response was still very salient – and I had opinions. I thought Sanford would be an opportunity to find ways to make those opinions actionable. The military is all about ‘how can I take a series of steps to begin to accomplish certain things?’ And, as a dual law student said, lawyers know the law, but Sanford provides more context so you don’t just know how to use law as a tool, but you can think through ‘what does this mean for people’? Policy affects people, and not only are you expected to do a job, but also to get the best solution in trying to make a better world. So, within 48 hours of the deadline, I applied.
Getting accepted was an opportunity to pivot. I’m in the reserves, so if there’s a crisis, I’m always ready to answer that call. But I’m a strong believer. I believe God wanted me to be here, so I’m here. I’m now pursuing law school, and I want to graduate from Sanford with a smile on because I had a good time here.”
-Chandlee Jackson IV, MPP ’23 #humansofdukesanford #MPP