MPS Alumni Spotlight: S. Jackie Milton

MPS Alumni Spotlight: S. Jackie Milton

Hardworking, persistent, determined, studious.

Upon hearing Jackie’s story, these are a few words that best describe her character. 

Before her parents immigrated to the United States, S. Jackie Milton was born in a refugee camp and spent the first year of her life in the mountains of northern Thailand. Her family then came to call the deep south of Alabama home for 11 years where she grew up having a microscopic view of life beyond the semi-segregated community where she lived during her childhood. A new perspective was gained once Jackie’s family settled down on the west coast in central California. Living within a melting pot of people, Jackie learned firsthand about a wide range of cultures which gave a new meaning to the word diversity.

Though her heart remains in California, at 19 years old Jackie made a final move to Utah for school, and in the years since, she has been married and had two kids. After going through a divorce, Jackie was struck by the harsh reality of finding a job that would pay enough to support her family of three with her highest level of education being a high school diploma. Years earlier she had taken one semester of classes at what was then Utah Valley State College and decided why not finish where she began. She continued working, taking classes, and raising her sons as a single mother.

Jackie originally declared herself as a sociology major, but the Introduction to Criminal Justice (CJ 1010) class was all it took for her to know she had found her path at UVU. She studied continuously for three years toward a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement, while occasionally having to bring her oldest son along to classes. However, her dedication to school was a positive influence to her oldest son, as he is wrapping up his high school career with goals of attending an Ivy League university.

jackie milton graduation

“As a parent, the greatest blessing is to see my children have opportunities,” Milton said. “I think they see that if Mom can achieve these hard things at this stage of life she is in, then I definitely can do anything.”

At commencement for Jackie’s undergrad, Matt Duffin, associate professor of criminal justice, encouraged her to go after a graduate degree, Jackie was unsure if she had it in her to further her education. But, after some much deserved time off, she took on the challenge and applied for the Master of Public Service (M.P.S.) program. As of December 2021, Jackie has graduated and holds an M.P.S. degree.

Today, Jackie works as a Criminal Information Specialist for the Utah Parole Board and appreciates UVU and her professors for passing on their knowledge and wisdom that made it possible for her successes.

“UVU gave me so much more than I thought was possible. I didn’t believe going into my undergrad that I could be so much more, and it has opened my mind to understand that I can do anything and be anything.”

Any person who has been in a situation similar to Jackie or doesn't feel confident in going back to school, she extends this piece of advice: “For those, like myself, who are going through the transition of divorce, I would encourage them to go back to school. You’re going to feel insecure, you’re going to question if you’re strong enough to conquer this struggle, but getting your education will open up so many doors. Do it because if you have the desire, you have the motivation to catapult yourself higher than you think you could go.”

jackie milton family