The Charger Blog

Chargers Reflect on Meeting ‘Role Model’ at Inspiring Campus Talk

The Charger community recently welcomed Dominique Jackson, an advocate, author, and actor, who spoke to the University community as part of Women’s History Month. Her talk inspired reflection and offered Chargers a “powerful example of success.”

April 4, 2024

By Jade Roman, Gabriel Aliendro ’27, Sadara Funches ’24, and Leo LaBlanc ’27

Sadara Funches ’24 (right) moderated the conversation with Dominique Jackson.
Sadara Funches ’24 (right) moderated the conversation with Dominique Jackson.

Dominique Jackson, a women’s rights advocate, actor, and icon in queer visibility, recently spoke with members of the University community as part of the University’s monthlong celebration of Women’s History Month. The event, hosted by the University’s NAACP chapter and moderated by chapter president Sadara Funches ’24, fostered conversation and reflection. Jackson inspired the many students and staff members who attended her talk. Below, several Chargers reflect on listening to her empowering message and meeting her.

Jade Roman, Assistant Director, Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion

I recently had the honor of meeting Dominique Jackson and her fiancé, Edwin. The most rewarding part about this experience was witnessing the inspiration and empowerment Dominique's presence brought to our students on campus. Dominique exudes elegance, confidence, compassion, and courage. Her presence was not only healing for our students but for me as well as a young Black woman who is just starting her career.

Gabriel Aliendro ’27

The NAACP Chapter at the University has welcomed me and granted me the opportunity to participate in new experiences such as attending this honorary guest speaker event. Dominque Jackson’s visit to campus provided an outlet for my sister and me to connect in a way that we did not think was possible.

When Dominique described her roles as an actress, model, activist, and author, it was clear that she is an advocate and supporter of many different individual causes. When she described her upbringing, of which was different than my own, it brought me a different perspective that I would have otherwise not been aware of. Ms. Jackson even took the time to FaceTime my sister with me and offered her wisdom and unconditional acceptance.

Ms. Jackson created a conversation where my sister felt seen and heard in a way that not many are able. It was an unprecedented bonding moment for my sister and me. When we spoke next, we discussed the conversation and how much it meant to her. It was a great privilege to have this way to understand others and be more sensitive to those around me and their life experiences. I joined the NAACP for this reason: to become aware and to become a better person in this world and in the University community.

This event provided a role model to me that showcases a powerful example of success. Success of a person who lives in their truth which, to me, is the message I wanted to encounter from the club and from my university. I feel that after attending this event, I truly understand the message and the worth of what the NAACP is making known to the world and to me.

Dominique Jackson (center) met several members of the Charger community.
Dominique Jackson (center) met several members of the Charger community.
Sadara Funches ’24

I had the absolute honor of closing out Women's History Month by hosting and moderating an evening with the electrifying Dominique Jackson. As president of the University’s NAACP chapter, I knew it was time to bring phenomenal women to campus. I am proud to bring back a Women's History Month speaker to the University.

Born in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Dominique Jackson is a model, lead actress in the FX show Pose, author, and LGBTQ+ advocate and activist who is no stranger to breaking glass ceilings. Moderating this conversation was life changing as I will forever carry the strength she bestowed on me and the audience.

Words cannot express how grateful I am for this invaluable time with a forever role model. She has passed on her formula for existing in the world for individuals not born with a silver spoon in their mouth, individuals who have had to learn to love themselves, and individuals who had to prove their worth even when people were wrong for telling them they were worth less than anyone else. Dominique has enlightened me in leading with love and to stand firm in oneself, even when the energies closest to us could be fueled by hate.

Leo LaBlanc ’27

What an honor it was for the University of New Haven’s NAACP chapter to host an interview with THE Dominique T.A.R. Jackson. Her presence on this campus took me by surprise. Dominique Jackson? Here in West Haven? Why come to a small campus like this one? She jokes, “I am just an hour and thirty minutes away from here but don’t come knocking on my door,” which left the crowd hysterical.

For a woman such as Dominique, a Tobagonian woman with beyond many honorable accolades that couldn’t possibly fit in a single page, to speak on a small university campus on a Monday evening as a guest speaker spoke volumes! She reminds her audience to truly embrace who you are no matter who in the world disagrees with you, including yourself.

Dominique Jackson (second from left) connected with Chargers before and after her talk.
Dominique Jackson (second from left) connected with Chargers before and after her talk.

I was introduced to Ms. Jackson in 2020 through my mother on a TV series called Pose, playing her role as Elecktra Evangelista. My mother called me into her room and told me to watch as she rewound her TV. She showed a clip of Elecktra telling off a bridal shop owner. My mother looks at me and says “Now THAT’S how you should handle people who are in your way. Don’t you EVER let anyone talk to you the way that man did, and if they do, give them what’s coming to them.” Dominique, through Elecktra, taught my mother how to stand her ground with just a couple of words. I started to see her confidence come back and grow since.

As an advocate, Ms. Jacksons voice and platform serve as a pillar for people of color and the LGBTQ community, and for women’s empowerment. Her accolades do not only speak for themselves, but to minority communities across the globe. I was in awe watching her walk in fashion week in Paris in 2021 for Mugler alongside Hunter Schafer, another trans model, actress, and advocate.

Doninique Jackson’s role in the world has taken its ripple effect across many areas of society. We see more trans models now, such as Alex Cosani and Chella Man, who walk on runways and appear in malls across the globe. With her hit role in Pose, she introduced the world to Ballroom and Vogue on a grand scale. Seeing more people learn to Vogue and accepting Ballroom culture is something I would never expect to see on an average day in a rural high school, but it did, and I felt more comfortable in my school. Dominique Jackson had open doors and secured spaces for people of color, LBGTQ individuals, and women.

Like Dominique, I too am involved heavily in subcultures. While listening to Dominique speak, she explains how drugs have polluted the Ballroom scene and have scarred people for life, even watching her friends face the harsh consequences of drugs. I resonated with her in that statement.

In my community, drugs have snuck their way into the punk scene so quickly and took people out like flies. It was getting to the point where bands were bringing Narcan to shows in case someone overdosed, which was a regular occurrence.

Chargers were excited to meet Dominique Jackson (far left).
Chargers were excited to meet Dominique Jackson (far left).

During the Q&A, I wanted to let her know that ballroom was not alone in this battle against drugs. Drugs have taken the lives of many in the punk scene including a couple of friends of mine. I asked her what is the best way someone like I can prevent or eradicate drugs from our scenes? She took a moment before answering. Her response was not only for me, but for the rest of the audience.

This action reminded me of the power of Dominique’s activism. She told the audience ways and tips to help another’s battle with drugs and how to help yourself. She called to mind that everyone can be that change. Though her response was towards everyone, I took her words to action that night. As of Tuesday morning, I messaged people from my scene on Instagram to spread awareness on drug issues at shows. We all share the same feelings about it and are tired of worrying who else could be impacted.

As of today, I noticed the message had spread from punk scene to punk scene about the drugs issue and people actively discussing ways to fix it. Bands and booking companies across the nation have been called to action in order to keep their shows safer and more secure. The change doesn’t have to start with one person, but with one initiative, and I thank Dominique Jackson for helping me realize that.

Jade Roman is assistant director of the University’s Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion. Gabriel Aliendro ’27 is a genetics & biotechnology major. Sadara Funches ’24 is a communication major. Leo LaBlanc ’27 is a forensic science major.