Like many people, Palm Beach Atlantic University pharmacy student Jonathan “Jay” Jackson once sought earthly praise as he worked to accomplish his goals.
Gregory School of Pharmacy Outstanding Graduate Jonathan "Jay" Jackson receives an award from West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio during spring commencement on Saturday at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.
“A couple of years ago God grabbed a hold of my heart and changed my desires, giving me a passion for Him,” Jackson wrote in his application for the University’s Gregory Outstanding Graduate Award. “As a result, instead of chasing after my own glory and fame, I now chase His glory and strive to make His name famous. He is transforming my selfish ambition into a selfless ambition.”
Last week, Jackson saw his new, higher purpose being achieved when he was revealed as the recipient of the Gregory Award.
“It was presented in a manner that He got all the credit instead of me,” Jackson said afterward.
Jackson said that he had no idea he’d been chosen for the award until he heard presenter Mary Ann Blessing, daughter of pharmacy school namesake Lloyd L. Gregory, describing him and reading excerpts from his application prior to announcing the winner.
“I felt really moved when she was reading some of the words in my essay,” the Grand Rapids, Mich., native said.
The award, which is the school of pharmacy’s most prestigious honor, includes a $10,000 prize. Jackson was announced as the recipient during the pharmacy school’s traditional hooding ceremony on Friday.
The award recognizes the graduating senior in the top 10 percent of his or her class who has demonstrated a continual devotion to his or her faith and the desire to integrate faith into his or her practice. The Gregory Award recipient also has shown excellence in both health-related and community volunteer projects.
Jackson has participated in volunteer projects of both types. He oversaw a booth for community health fairs, educated the public on the importance and safety of medication adherence during the Script Your Future campaign and conducted diabetes and hypertension screenings during the Belle Glade Walk for a Change.
He graduated on Saturday with a 3.94 grade point average and is a pharmacy practice resident with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He and his wife, Tiffany, have a 3-month-old daughter, Eliana.
Jackson has been active at Grace Fellowship for the past five years, where he serves as a greeter. He is involved in the church’s “Disciples Making Disciples” program and has been discipling and mentoring a teenage boy for the past six months.
Jackson also has found a mentor in one of the pastors there. “We meet on a weekly basis and God has really grown me through our times together,” Jackson wrote in his essay.
Ultimately, Jackson would like to teach pharmacy. He said his professors have been excellent role models.
“I’ve loved my time here,” he said. “I’m glad I chose to go to a Christian university.”