Scott Jackoway: Luminary Leader
Luminary Leaders is a recognition program for youth. Throughout the year, we’ll showcase recently recognized leaders here on Blue Boat. This profile highlights a recent bridger who was honored for his outstanding contributions to UU youth communities– Ed.
Congregation: UU Church of Indianapolis
Leadership Highlights: Attendee and two-time staffer at the Youth MidWest Leadership School; District Youth Steering Committee member and chair, and Con Dean.
Scott Jackoway was recognized as part of the first group of Luminary Leaders for his service and leadership while he was a youth. When he applied the people recommending highlighted Scott’s joy, humor, creativity, intelligence and breadth of experience as strong gifts that he shares with UU communities. Now a young adult, Scott is attending college and looking for ways to continue his involvement.
WE ASKED SCOTT TO REFLECT ON HIS TIME AS A YOUTH LEADER AND WHAT’S NEXT FOR HIM.
SJ: What I really loved about being a youth leader was being the person that everyone, youth and adults, could rely on. Working directly in leading cons in my district meant that everyone knew they could turn to me for questions, and I could help them, which is so rewarding. The many youth and adults that I have been able to help provide life-long meaningful experiences for, they are why I continued in leadership.
BB: Is there a particularly memorable experience you’d like to share?
SJ: I have such a vivid memory of the first meeting for my District Youth Steering Committee (DYSC) that I ever went to. I was a sophomore, and most of the DYSC were seniors. Seniors I looked up to a lot. I was also brought in in the middle of the year due to another member of DYSC stepping down. So I was suddenly thrust into this room full of people I looked up to, who knew what they were doing already, knew each other already, and understood the way these meetings were run. I barely spoke. It’s still stunning to me that that’s where I came from, and so quickly became the leader of this group of amazing leaders.
BB: Why are you a Unitarian Universalist?
SJ: That is such a layered question. At a very basic level I have my parents to thank for deciding I needed a religious community growing up. As for why I stay, I can’t put it into a clean answer. There’s the music, the hymns from church and the chants from cons and the choirs and the talented performers I have met. There’s the youth programming and the amazing youth advisors, who believe so strongly in youth empowerment and have been willing to guide me, instead of telling me. There’s the social justice, the enthusiasm and devotion so many UUs have, the infectious desire to see a better world. There are the amazing people, who can have such serious and important intellectual discussions, or can laugh and sing and cry all at once, and who are my family. But more than any of that there is the sense of grounding I get from going to church. UUism helps me learn more about myself every week. Worship fills my chalice with oil enough to burn through the week, and just as I am about to burn out, church is there to fill me up again. That is why I am a Unitarian Universalist, because without it, I’m empty.
BB: Now that you’re a young adult, what are you up to? Are there ways you hope to be involved in the future?
SJ: I now go to college at New York University, where I’m studying acting. First semester I was regretfully too busy and never found time to go to church, but this semester I have fairly regularly been attending First Unitarian Congregation of Brooklyn, which has welcomed me with open arms. I plan on attending GA this summer, and I’m hoping to find some way to get involved on a national level.
BB: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming youth leaders?
SJ: Don’t ever give up, and don’t quit before you’ve started. It’s a big scary world, even within the UU community. Don’t be afraid to stick your feet in, and if the water seems good, go for a cannonball. I know that one of the hardest things about being a youth leader is having multiple commitments. I had several friends who couldn’t be on DYSC because they chose sports or performing arts first. We don’t have time-turners, we can’t be in multiple places at once, and it’s awful sometimes. I had to turn down plays so that I could go to cons. I had friends that couldn’t go to cons for a full year because of their other commitments. So choose wisely, you only have so much time. Take care of yourself, remember that being a youth is a time to have fun.
Are you an outstanding youth leader, or do you know someone who is? Luminary Leaders applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are available at www.uua.org/luminary. There are no limits to the number of youth we can accept, so apply today! Luminary Leaders receive recognition and are connected to new opportunities to be involved in UUA leadership. If you know a youth leader who needs some extra encouragement, consider completing our nomination form, and we’ll personally reach out to them and invite them to apply for the program!