Erika Jackson

Erika Jackson, a senior psychology honors program major in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Cook Honors College and IUP’s nominee for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Ali-Zaidi Award, has been selected for a scholarship as IUP’s nominee by IUP Provost Lara Luetkehans.

The Ali-Zaidi Award was established by Syed R. Ali-Zaidi, a founding member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education's Board of Governors, to recognize and reward, on an annual basis, a graduating senior from one of the state-owned universities.

The award is highly competitive; each president of a State System university can recommend a nominee at the conclusion of a campus application and selection process. Three IUP students have won the award since its introduction in 2000.

Recipients for the Ali-Zaidi Award are selected based on outstanding academic scholarship, including prizes, honors, and honorary societies; participation in extra and cocurricular activities; and a two-page essay by the nominee addressing how the university has prepared them for the next career step.

“Erika meets every criterion of the Ali-Zaidi Award requirements: her academics are outstanding; she is a student leader in organizations throughout campus and her work is extremely impactful; and she will begin study in IUP’s school psychology program this fall with the goal of earning a doctor of philosophy degree in school psychology by May 2029,” Provost Luetkehans said.

Jackson, of Monroeville, will graduate in May from the psychology honors program with a bachelor of arts in psychology major and applied statistics minor. She completed a research thesis titled “Does Active Perspective-Taking Reduce Office Discipline Referrals” in December 2023. She presented her research at the Psychology Department 2023 Honors Colloquium.

“I am really grateful to receive IUP’s nomination for this award,” Jackson said. “I am honored and humbled to know that my efforts of service and scholarship are valued by the nomination committee.”

In April, Jackson coordinated the university’s Unity Ball/Met Gala, working with a number of university groups and the IUP DEI Alliance. More than 260 members of the IUP community attended the event, designed to celebrate and embrace cultural identities and intersectionality.

Jackson, who is a Promising Scholar, is a peer mentor for the University College, working one-on-one with students in the Promising Scholars program to help them meet program requirements and achieve success. She is also a student worker in the Office of Social Equity and Title IX, coordinating monthly meetings for student organizations that are part of the DEI Alliance and curating programs and demonstrations to support the awareness of diverse student organizations.

She is the education chair of the IUP chapter of the NAACP and is the current president of Collegiate Women in Progress, having served as vice president and program coordinator for the group. She was a Welcome Week leader in both 2022 and 2023. In addition to her Promising Scholar scholarship, she is a Sutton Scholarship winner and 2023 recipient of the African American Alumni Scholarship. She was chosen for the 2023 Inclusion and Advocacy Award from the Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement and the IUP Student Government Association.

She has presented for the IUP chapter of the NAACP and has been an invited consultant for the local junior high school, speaking about “History Repeats: The Cycle of Black Experience of Oppression.”

She is a dean’s list and provost scholar student and is an early admissions student for IUP’s school psychology doctoral program.

The daughter of Eric and Nakia Jackson of Monroeville, she is a 2020 graduate of Gateway Senior High School.