Jackson semi-finalist for Gates scholarship

WINNSBORO – Two students from Fairfield County have been distinguished as being among 2,000 semi-finalists out of 33,000 applicants for one of 300 Bill and Melinda Gates scholarships. The prestigious scholarships cover up to $200,000 each for winners to attend any college or university of their choice within the United States.

One of those students, Lamar Richards, a senior, lives in Fairfield County and now attends the Richland One Middle College, a free, public charter school on the campus of the University of South Carolina. The other is Janiece Jackson, a senior at Fairfield Central High School.


Janiece Jackson is a Fairfield teen wonder with a string of credentials that have boosted her into the stratosphere of Gates Scholarship semifinalist status.

But that’s not her only offer for a full-ride. Jackson has already been accepted into 20 colleges and universities including such prestigious schools as Louisiana State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of South Carolina, Clemson, Wofford and Furman where she’s been offered full funding for her academic prowess.

But none of this comes as a surprise. Jackson was a Duke TIP Scholar in seventh grade based on her soaring ACT scores, is president of her chapter of the National Honor Society and was the top student in the second division math category at the State Beta Club convention.

Jackson has also been named Most Outstanding Student in at least two classes for each of the last three years at FCHS. She’s taken a number of AP courses and, with dual enrollment, she’s on track to graduate with a two-year degree from Midlands Technical College before she receives her diploma from Fairfield Central High School this spring.

And speaking of graduation, Jackson said she has been number one in her class since the second semester of last year, virtually guaranteeing her status as Valedictorian when she graduates in June.

But while she excels in the world of academia, Jackson’s focus is rooted on the simple desire to use her academic strengths to help others.

“I want to study something in college that I know I’m going to use, like math,” Jackson said. “I like math a lot and I want to apply that somewhere that I can help people. I’m thinking about a statistician or actuary, so I can help people identify risk and what percent of risk everything is in their life – like life insurance, family insurance, things like that. It’s a field I’m interested in. I like to help people.”

To that end, high on Jackson’s list is community service. She has visited the senior citizens at Pruitt Health where she entertained them and brought them snacks. She tutors her peers in the district and in the community.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Jackson come to Fairfield County in 2006 where she started kindergarten.

“My grandfather brought our extended family down here from Brooklyn,” Jackson said. “He brought all of us down South and most of us are still here. Most are still here.”

Like her friend Lamar Richards, Jackson credits her mother, Angela Jackson, a clerk at Fairfield Memorial Hospital before it closed, and her grandmother for inspiring her life.

While she says she’s not entirely focused on academics – “I like to watch You Tube, Netflix and read romance, fantasy and sci-fi books” – she says it is her interest in reading and writing that have helped her become successful as a student.

“My grandmother instilled in me a lot of the things I’m about,” Jackson said. “She read the newspaper to me and we worked the crossword puzzles together. Even now, I think of her when I read. She meant a lot to me and I’m grateful for what she did for me.”

Read about Lamar Richards here. 

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