Western Courier

Student Spotlight

Tony Jackson Broadcasting major History minor

Chris Ginn

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 Western Illinois University student Tony Jackson works at 88.3 The Dog, WIUTV-3 and raises three children with his fiancée Heather Kruzan in Canton, Illinois.

 A Peoria-born native, the 49-year-old Broadcasting major and History minor had a rough childhood. When he was younger Jackson faced many problems and as a way to escape these problems he sought out boxing and has stuck with it ever since.

 “So, I started going to the local gym in my town and being a boxer,” Jackson said. “I was mad at the world for the hand that life dealt me, but eventually a coach picked me up who wanted to turn the anger I had into something positive. “

 Jackson was mentored by Will Harris, a retired professional boxing coach from Los Angles.

 “By the time I turned 16, I was knocking everyone off the ring, from amateur to pros,” Jackson said. “He taught me not only to be a champion in the ring but also in life. But the main thing he taught me was obedience in setting a goal for myself.“
I realized that I didn’t have hopes or dreams in Peoria,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t pursue it because of the hate and anger I had from being thrown into foster care in my own town.”

 Deciding to travel, Jackson left Peoria to continue boxing at the Peña’s Davenport Boxing Club. Arriving only a few weeks before the Michael Nunn and Lonnie Horn match scheduled for July 5, 1997, Jackson sparred with both boxers. Jackson’s skill got him noticed and he boxed until retirement in 2003.

 Graduating from Spoon River College in 2014, Jackson was inspired to attend Western by his sister Beatrice J. Brickhouse. Years after their separation, Jackson and his eldest sister reconnected. Jackson explained that his sister, who graduated from Western, serves a federal judge in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

 “This is how I got to Western,” Jackson said. “I realized I didn’t have to accept second best. That if you put it all on the line, like I learned in my boxing career, I could be somebody. I could take control of myself. See, education is a great equalizer no matter what your economic opportunities are. Education takes care of all that.”

 Jackson was then encouraged by his fiancée to submit his private writings and make them public. Although initially against the idea, Jackson submitted his work and was notified via e-mail that he was published.

 “I just took the stories of life and the emotions and feelings that I had and wrote it down on paper like I usually do,” Jackson said. “I like to write short stories, I like to write real life stories, I am a motivation speaker. I encourage people where ever I go. How I encourage people is not through my words but through my actions.”

 Jackson combines his passion for writing with his major to become a better-rounded student.

 “We’re taught how to use real cameras —  teleprompters,” Jackson said. “You’re taught how to read scripts, how to do your part as an anchor, a co-anchor and a meteorologist. Whatever it is that you see on television, this is what we do
here at Channel 3.”

 As part of his work as a broadcasting students, Jackson is taught news reporting and how to get news packages. A news package is a form of storytelling combining visual, audio, text and human elements.

 “One of them was a murder story that I covered a lot last year which happened in Canton,” Jackson said. “They never had a murder there since 1998. So, I interviewed judges, lawyers, sheriffs and a grieving family.”

 Looking back on his life, Jackson is determined to continue on with his schooling and mold himself into the vision he dreams of being.

 “I am a man on a mission,” Jackson said. “I took all those failures to learn how to do it better the next time. I am at the point now where I am letting the professors here at WIU mold me from a raw piece of cold to a fine finished diamond. This is how I am going to end my WIU schooling.”

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