By Sydney Hembrough
Jacksonville High School’s (JHS) class of 2019 is full of successful, unique and inspiring young individuals. JHS’s mission statement outlines the school’s goal of developing college and career ready individuals.
Like many of her classmates, recent graduate Mallory Erickson has proven to be just that – eagerly prepared for the future post-graduation.
Erickson has certainly left her mark on JHS and the Jacksonville community in the past four years. She was involved with the cheerleading squad as a football cheerleader for four years and basketball cheerleader for two years.
Her strong performance in the classroom earned her a spot in the National Honor Society and National English Honor Society. She also gave up her study hall time to work in the student services office as a student volunteer.
Along with extracurriculars, Erickson spent her time volunteering with her teams throughout the community as well as spending her time as a volunteer for the Christ Deaf Lutheran Church.
In the after-school program, Erickson would feed, play, sing and help teach the kids Bible lessons every week along with Pastor Phillis and other volunteers. As a member of the school’s first DECA chapter, Erickson was the president of the club her senior year.
Her 3rd place performance at the state competition earned her a spot at the international DECA competition in Anaheim, California. The presentation consisted of a 30-page essay and a 15-minute memorized speech on the topic of increasing the occupancy rate at a local bed and breakfast.
Erickson said that her time at that competition was her favorite memory from high school because it allowed her to form friendships and future business connections. She noted, “In California, my partner and I had to room with two other girls. I will never forget the time we had with them.”
Another thing that stood out about Erickson’s high school career was her involvement in the Morgan-Scott CEO program.
As a part of the year long course, students are given the tools they need to create their own businesses. Erickson created a cake pop business called Erickson’s Cake Pops, in which she sold the sweet treats for $1.50 each. Each cake pop was baked and decorated by Erickson herself.
She reflected on the creation of her business by saying, “I had to get a food handler license, register my business under the state of Illinois and pay taxes.” Through her experience with the program, Erickson learned how to earn the respect and criticism of others. She said, “If you want to make a difference, you must make yourself heard. Be accountable and be open to constructive criticism to get others to trust your ideas.”
The program also taught her how to interact with adults in a professional manner and gave her the opportunity to work in the community.
Her efforts earned her the Kiwanis Vocational Student of the Month award. In looking back at her time at JHS, Erickson noted that one teacher, in particular made a tremendous impact on her.
Mrs. Ritter, who no longer works at JHS, was Erickson’s business teacher and DECA advisor. Erickson credited her in saying, “She guided me along the way and because of her, I have chosen a major and life plan that makes me happy. Without her guidance, I would not be the student with the experiences I have today.”
Although Erickson’s time at JHS has come to an end, if she could give one piece of advice to an incoming freshman, it would be this: “it’s hard to be yourself, be yourself anyway.”
Likewise, to the upcoming class of 2020, Erickson would like to say, “There is so much hope for the future. Take it all in and work hard for what you want.” In the fall, Erickson will attend the University of South Alabama as a recipient of the Talent and Ability Scholarship and the Freshman Leadership Scholarship.
She plans on majoring in hospitality and tourism event management with hopes of being a member of the Hospitality Tourism Club, as well as Greek life. Her dream job would be to work for a sports team or a large firm as an event planner and host.
All in all, Erickson’s efforts in and outside of the classroom have not gone unnoticed. She has a plan for the future and will continue reaching far until she gets there. She is a go-getter who never fails to amaze those around her and lends a hand when needed. Her entrepreneurial spirit will take her so far. Her legacy will live on at Jacksonville High School for years to come.