2021 Business/CIS: Jacklyn Williamson

Jacklyn grew up living in motels with her family in Orange County. When Jacklyn was 16, her mother passed away; when Jacklyn turned 21, she lost her father, too. Jacklyn had to support herself at a young age, and thinking about her future had to wait.

She began working in Downtown Disney at Haagen Dazs and continued to be promoted, ultimately being offered store manager at a Fashion Island branch. This sparked Jacklyn’s love of business and gave her the inspiration for entering the Business Administration program at Cypress College. She thrived in her classes, and was further motivated by being in the same graduating class as her brother. This spring, they will both graduate together, bolstering both her future career prospects and a family bond that has strengthened through tough times.


Student Jacklyn Williamson poses in front of blue wall as a Presidential Scholar of Distinction.
Please tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up?

What are your interests? What is your story? My name is Jacklyn Williamson, I am currently a full-time student attending my last semester at Cypress College. I will be graduating May 2021 with my AD-T in Business Administration. I will be transferring to Cal State University Fullerton in Fall of 2021 where I will continue my education and receive my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Growing up in and out of motels in the heart of Orange County, with no stable homes, times were tough, especially when it came to staying in one place let alone one school. At the age of only 16 years old my dad passed away, and by the time I was 21 my mom had left this world, too. I had to grow up at an early age. I learned to financially support myself before making that choice that it was finally time to go back to school, seven years later after graduating high school. While working at Haagen Dazs in Downtown Disney, I worked my way up to store manager. Owner Wayne Heck gave me the opportunity to manage his Fashion Island location. This is where I found my passion working with others and bringing smiles to people’s faces.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am passionate about bringing joy into someone’s else’s day. I love interacting and socially bonding with my team and of course the guests. Most of all I am passionate about my own personal growth in life. I strive to set goals and achieve those goals on a daily basis. I want the life for myself and my future family that I know we deserve. I am passionate about having a secure home before starting a family so that my kids can have a childhood that I never got to experience.

Business/CIS student Jacklyn Williams poses with graduation regalia on Cypress College campus.

Why did you choose Cypress College?

I chose to attend Cypress College because it was the school my dad was enrolled in before passing away. After 20-plus years, he wanted to go back and study computer engineering. I also chose Cypress College because I had siblings who were enrolled there already and I figured they were the motivation I needed to get back into school.

What have you been involved in at Cypress College? How has your path unfolded?

I started off going back to school with the intention of completing my general education courses and with a desire to continue to expand my knowledge in the business field because of my work experience. Once I started taking the classes related to my major such as my Intro to Business or my Accounting class, it gave me the confirmation I needed that I was on the right path. Already gaining the hand-on experience in my work life, it was exciting for me to learn more about why a business works the way it does and exactly what it takes to one day open up my own business or if I chose too go down the path of owning my own franchise, what that exactly means.

Share a memorable event or experience while you’ve been a Cypress College student.

While I’ve been a Cypress College student, one of the things I will remember most will be the summer of 2020 when I enrolled in a 5-week Macroeconomics course, which was one of the courses I dreaded most. I did this because I learned that I was getting closer and closer to graduating the same semester as my brother and so I pushed myself through the hard work and studying to accomplish this goal, here I am today graduating spring of 2021 with him by my side and I couldn’t be prouder.

Business student Jacklyn Williamson poses with her brother, who will graduate with her in spring 2021.

Who are the faculty and staff (in your major, an academic or other support program, etc.) who have helped you get where you are today?

If it wasn’t for professor John Dupuy and his Introduction to Business course, I wouldn’t have the confidence or the determination to want to follow my dream of one day owning my own Haagen Dazs franchise. I already had the hands-on experience but knowing more, learning more and participating in creating a group business plan was not only fun but it confirmed for me that it’s absolutely what I’m passionate about. I also wanted to thank Professor Corey Leis, my English professor, for having us do those breathing techniques. It’s something I have continued to do when I need to clear my brain and it works every time.

How has Cypress College supported you throughout your time at the college?

Cypress College has supported me throughout the years by having counseling available whenever I needed it in addition to access to the food banks which helped feed and clothe my family when times were hard. The huge two-story library was also one of my favorite places to go if I needed some peace and quiet to study or when I needed to access the printers when I didn’t have one of my own.

What are your immediate plans after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.)?

My immediate plans after obtaining my AD-T for Business Administration are to transfer to CSUF where I will be working toward my bachelor’s degree for Business Administration so I can broaden my future prospects.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

My long-term goals are to someday open up a family business with my siblings. We haven’t completely narrowed down what the family business would be but we know it’s something we would all like to do and with each of us gaining the necessary knowledge, it is going to be possible to do. I love working with people and putting smiles on their faces. With Haagen Dazs being located in Downtown Disney, providing exceptional service was key and I loved that I was able to be a part of someone’s memorable experience. I always told myself that I could see myself being an owner at one of the many franchises and that was before I had taken courses and learned even more what it is like to own your own franchise. I aspire to make this goal of mine become reality.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the individual I have grown to be. I push myself to achieve the goals I set for myself to be successful and the fact that I am here today with the privilege of being nominated as the 2021 Presidential Scholars of Distinction is an absolute honor that I am beyond proud of myself for. I always wanted to go to college, I took AVID all through high school and even enrolled in my first Cypress College course back in 2010 when I was still in high school. Sometimes life gets in the way, I was veered into the working life where I was managing Haagen Dazs and if I am being completely honest, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I have grown into this motivated, hard working, dedicated woman because of the promotions I earned and the path that they led me to follow.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

If I could give one piece of advice to current and future Cypress College students it would be to not procrastinate and to just get assignments done as they are released. Writing notes and having checklists is what worked for me. It always feels good being able to cross something off of a list knowing you accomplished what needed to be done.

How have you been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic? What has gotten you through and/or what have you learned from it?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic my position at Marriott International was terminated. Unsure of when I would be returning back to work, I decided it was the perfect opportunity for me to focus on school. It was the first time I was ever enrolled in 15 units and was able to focus solely on school. What I have learned is that I am someone who likes to succeed, whether it’s the work or school department. I learned that it’s possible to reach your goals if you just take the time to properly manage your free time. As someone who has lost both of my parents, and a best friend, I am someone who has already learned that life is short and to cherish every second of it but the COVID-19 pandemic has remined me to keep in touch with other loved ones and other family members who I don’t always remember to reach out too. I have also learned to make the most out of my free time. Its really easy to get in that vacation mode where you feel like you can just watch movies all day and eat junk food but there’s so much more of a rewarding feeling that comes from knowing that the day was filled with goals that were accomplished and checked off the list rather just completely wasting the day away.

Is there anyone in particular you’d like to thank?

I’d like to thank my siblings for being by my side, challenging and motivating me along the way. I wouldn’t be here, where I am without any of them pushing me and encouraging me to keep on going. I am forever grateful toward my Aunt Jen for taking me in, helping shape the path that I went down. I also want to thank all of my friends and co-workers from Haagen Dazs, Jessica Franks, Sammy Alvarado, Karla, for consistently believing in be and encouraging me to go back to school.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

It is an absolute honor to be recognized and chosen by faculty members as this year’s Presidential Scholar of Distinction in the Business pathway. Thank you for this once in a lifetime incredible opportunity.