Augusta University is celebrating its spring graduates this week.
Spring Commencement ceremonies will be Thursday, May 13, at Lady A Pavilion, 7016 Evans Town Center Park. There will be a morning and an afternoon ceremony to accommodate participants and guests, while also following appropriate COVID-19 precautions.
When Jomari Jackson was growing up in Forsyth, Georgia, he would closely watch his mom, a local nurse, care for her patients.
The love and kindness she showed each of her patients made a huge impression on him over the years.
“Watching her sacrifice, and seeing her totally involved in taking care of people who were ill, inspired me as a child,” Jackson said. “So, ever since I was young, I’ve always known I wanted to work in health care. But I didn’t quite know in what kind of role until I reached high school.”
It wasn’t until high school that he noticed his local dentist also played a major role in his community.
“I started realizing how much a dentist interacts with not only patients, but people throughout the community,” Jackson said. “I saw my dentist back in my hometown become a part of many organizations in our community. He’s given out scholarships. He is a part of what is called the Touchdown Club at my high school, Mary Persons High School in Forsyth, where he has sponsored different football players over the years.
“I just thought it was cool to see him very involved, so that attracted me to dentistry.”
Jackson, who hopes to attend the Dental College of Georgia in the fall of 2022 to earn his Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry, decided he also needed to study business to have a successful practice in the future.
This week, Jackson will graduate from the James M. Hull College of Business at Augusta University with a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in health care management.
“To be an entrepreneur and be able to create your own business and have the flexibility on how you market and promote your dentist’s office, that was extremely appealing to me,” Jackson said. “I liked the independence of owning such a business, but I wanted to learn how to run it successfully and Hull College made that possible.”
During his sophomore year at Augusta University, Jackson took the “Introduction to Business and Professional Skills” class with Dr. Melissa Furman and he quickly gravitated toward a business degree from Hull College.
“I just immediately noticed the community in the Hull College of Business was so close and the professors were truly interested in their students,” Jackson said. “It was as if my dreams for the future were also their dreams. They adopted my dreams and helped show me the path to get there.
“And they just didn’t do that for me. They did that for a lot of students. They are very in tune with what you want to do in life and they kind of customize your learning experience for you.”
As a future dentist and possible owner of a private practice, Jackson said Hull College helped him develop the skills necessary to make that dream a reality one day.
“I knew I needed leadership skills and the know-how to manage and market my practice to get the word out about the work that I do,” he said. “Being at Augusta University, I already knew the science classes that I had to take to get into dental school. But I thought, ‘It wouldn’t hurt for me to become a business major to get that professional and leadership side, too.’ So, that’s what I did and it was a perfect fit for me.”
Jackson not only has a passion for Hull College and dentistry, but he is also dedicated to several local organizations, both on and off campus. He is a member of Doctors Without Borders, Augusta University Red Cross, the AU Dental Club and he volunteers at the Boys & Girls Clubs. In addition, he serves as president of Lumin Society, which is a student ambassador organization for Alumni Affairs.
He also works as a resident assistant for Augusta University’s on-campus housing at University Village, he recently volunteered at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at his church, St. James Baptist Church in Forsyth, and mentors to youth at his church and former high school.
“I’ve been asked to come back a couple of times to speak to principals and to different superintendents throughout the state to tell them about my experience throughout high school,” Jackson said. “I show them different avenues on how to promote more positive behavior in high schools around Georgia.”
In June, Jackson plans to take the Dental Admission Test and he will apply to The Dental College of Georgia.
“I’ve been studying for the Dental Admission Test for probably close to six months now,” Jackson said, smiling. “So, that’s definitely coming up pretty soon, but I think I’m ready.”
Jackson said he was even more convinced that dentistry was the correct career path for him after he accepted an internship in the summer of 2019 at Columbia University in New York City.
“It was a summer health program and I spent six weeks up there at their dental school just to see up close and in person what dental school is like,” Jackson said. “I also took some enhancement science courses that can help me with my prerequisites for applying to dental school. So, that was a great experience that really increased my excitement about dentistry.”
One of the main reasons Jackson is interested in attending The Dental College of Georgia is because he’d like to open a practice to serve the people of Georgia. He would also like to eventually return to his hometown of Forsyth to help the community that has supported him over the years.
“Eventually, my goal is to be back and serve Forsyth because it’s a small and rural city, but it’s a growing area,” Jackson said, adding that during a recent visit home he was surprised by the number of new businesses opening up, including a natural birth gynecology office. “That was something new and exciting to me because I’d like to see more health care-based business to come in and feel confident that they can be successful, even in a smaller, rural area.
“I feel like if I’m able to do it with dentistry, then I can really open the door for a lot of different health care businesses to come in and do great things in Forsyth.”
In the future, Jackson said he’d love to be the person to inspire more change and growth in his hometown.
“When I was young, I had to drive 30 to 45 minutes to see a dentist,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I didn’t have access to a dentist, but at the same time, it wasn’t convenient because I had to leave for the whole day of school because the drive was 45 minutes. Then, I had to sit at the dentist’s office for two or three hours and drive 45 minutes back home. Sometimes I might be in pain or not feeling well.
“If that service was provided five minutes down the road from my house, then my experience would have been a whole lot better.”
Making life a little easier and happier for his hometown would be a dream come true, Jackson said.
“A lot of the people who invested in me and a lot of my mentors, they gave me the strength to be who I am today,” Jackson said. “Now, I want to return the favor. They are the people I want to go back and serve.”