“Of 36 students in my class, I was the only woman — and I sat in the front row,” recalls Lillian Jackson, BComm 77, BA 82, MA 88, who arrived at Loyola College, one of Concordia’s founding institutions, in 1972. “The professor came up to me and asked, ‘What are you doing here?’ I smiled and said, ‘I’m representing my gender and doing a damn good job.’”
At the time, few women took math and business classes, yet Jackson was determined. She had talent and was eager to learn.
“Coming from England, I would take no nonsense from anyone,” says Jackson, who had recently arrived in Montreal with her sisters. Not knowing much about Canada beforehand, she was impressed by what was then Canada’s biggest metropolis. Working full-time at CP Rail during the day, she attended classes in the evening.
Jackson has fond memories of her university days, studying hard and making friends, visiting her teachers in their offices and going out for hot chocolate with classmates. Among her most precious reminiscences is her enormous feeling of pride at graduation, receiving the degree she had always wanted, with her mother looking on.
The ‘heart of Science College’
A true pioneer, Jackson became one of Concordia’s first Black graduates in her program, after the 1974 merger of Loyola College and Sir George Williams University. She went on to earn two more degrees at Concordia: a second undergraduate degree in economics in 1982, and a master’s in Public Policy and Public Administration (MPPPA) in 1988. “I was proud to be the first economics graduate to enter the MPPPA program,” she says.