A few months ago, we were visited by a very familiar face— 826LA alumnus Jackson Huang! Jackson came to 826LA for tutoring and workshops from 2008 to 2015. He was there for Miranda July’s legendary workshop “Every Single Thing You Know”, he co-wrote a song that was released on vinyl, and he brought his homework in every day during tutoring. In fact, Jackson Huang participated in almost every aspect of 826LA programming for over seven years.
From an early age, Jackson understood that his writing could have a powerful impact. While attending Nightingale Middle School in 2012, he wrote a letter to the Los Angeles City Council about implementation of cycling access plans in front of his school. His letter, widely distributed, received an amazing response from the cycling community, which he continues to take part in at the collegiate level.
His tenacious and inquisitive nature made a lasting mark on 826LA . And now a freshmen at UC Riverside, Jackson continues to share the same passion and dedication through leadership and creativity. While he was back from college over winter break, he stopped by 826LA. And Joel Arquillos, Executive Director, had some questions for him!
Read about Jackson’s memories of writing at 826LA:
What are you up to now?
Currently, I am a part of multiple organizations on the UCR campus. I’m in the Chinese Student Association, Fencing, and UCR Cycling. In my Chinese Student Association club, we celebrate and learn about Chinese culture, meet new people who share similar upbringings, and build bonds that last through multiple generations in our Big-Little program. In my Fencing club, my main objective is to introduce and expand the sport and spirit of fencing to the UCR community. For this upcoming school year, I have been elected as the Fencing club’s new Treasurer and will be handling the club’s finances and dues. For UCR Cycling, our club is geared toward all levels of experience and riding types, from barely knowing how to ride with training wheels to knowing how to wheelie for 2 days going at race pace — we accept all people. This quarter I am the Social Media Coordinator. Next year I’ll be the president of the UCR Cycling Club.
What do you remember about your time at 826LA? Are there any memories that stick out to you?
I remember my time at 826LA being spent around such creative minds and around people who are so accepting of every walk of life. I remember always looking forward to school ending because . . . I could finally start After-School Tutoring. I always looked forward to doing my homework. I never thought I would say that. I would have such a good time doing assignments at 826LA that I just didn’t enjoy anywhere else. The tutors, the staff members, [Joel], were all people who I loved seeing almost every day and were the people who made the hardest of assignments the most rewarding and fun to do. There are so many memories because every moment in 826LA was one that I hold near and dear to my heart. If I were to only choose one single moment, it probably would have to be the time 826LA participated in the Echo Park Parade in the year of 2008. The parade was fantastic, and being able to spend it with amazing people just made this memory extra special.
What role has writing played in your life thus far? Do you feel like 826LA prepared you for writing at the collegiate level?
Writing has definitely played a huge part in my life. From writing creative pieces to express my soul to writing a 600-word life essay that would ultimately determine the path of my college career. Especially in college, writing is present in all of my classes. I feel like 826LA prepared me to write at this level because of the amount and range of writing that 826LA requires of its students. I feel that responding to weird and unique prompts got me to approach writing more creatively. I can write an essay that can stand out from the crowd and be one of a kind.
As an alumnus, do you have any advice for other 826LA students?
So many of the readings and writing projects that 826LA required are some of the things that are helping a whole lot here in college. I would say before sticking to and committing to a college, go visit the school to make sure that the school is good for you and not good because of any US News rankings. When I was signing up for college I dreamed of attending UCLA, not because I fell in love with the campus, but because of its ranking. I had all of my dreams set on going there. In the summer before my senior year, I went to visit different colleges, but I wasn’t as open-minded. When I finally visited UCLA’s campus, I just didn’t like it. With my dreams crushed, I continued my college tour. School after school, I dreaded going to college. It wasn’t until I got to UCR when I felt like I have finally reached a place that felt like home. The campus is so full of many amazing minds. From that point forward I knew I was going to be a UCR Highlander. Any college will be amazing — don’t let any silly rankings effect what school you decide on attending because college is what you make it.
Other than telling him to lay off of the bacon wrapped hot dogs and dino nuggets, I would tell him to step-up the reading and writing. I would also tell him to try out fencing and cycling. He definitely won’t regret it, I know I wouldn’t.
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