Jackson Ross has set a remarkable standard for what it means to be an impactful student-athlete both on and off the field.
Throughout his college career, the Norman, Oklahoma native was a linchpin on the men’s football team and collected the accolades to prove it. From his position as a defensive lineman, he led the team in tackles during the last three seasons, averaging 9.6 per game. Moreover, he was named to the D3football.com All-West Region third team in 2018 and 2019 and selected to the All–Midwest Conference team three years in a row, winning Rookie of the Year in 2017. Translating his on-field success to the classroom, Ross was acknowledged for his strong academic performance by his selection as an Academic All-American and a University Athletic Association Presidents Council Scholar-Athlete.
Despite the plethora of accomplishments that he has amassed in his time at UChicago, Ross is quick to thank those who helped him along his collegiate journey. In addition to noting his family as his greatest inspiration, Ross, a business economics major, referenced the crucial impact that engaging professors, such as John List, and his coach Chris Wilkerson have had on him. Beyond these relationships, Ross is grateful for the camaraderie of the football team, and he maintains that “being able to create such a great network of friends” has been a crucial part of his UChicago experience. Ross added that everyone on the football team “has a fun story, so it’s awesome to get to know people and maintain those relationships, especially after college.”
Indeed, Ross said that his student-athlete journey has not only brought him great friendships but also taught him many valuable life lessons, such as learning how to adapt in the moment. He noted that “being able to stay flexible and persistent and to use your fundamentals to solve problems” are crucial skills that he will carry into his future career as a private equity analyst at Blackstone.
As an active member of his community, Ross is no stranger to solving problems that impact people around him. At UChicago, Ross led clothing drives for the Order of the “C” and Phi Gamma Delta, who donated these materials to local organizations. In his role as president of the Sports Business Team, Ross also served as a mentor for student-athletes seeking financial internship opportunities.
In addition to these collegiate initiatives, Ross has also volunteered for numerous causes in his home state. As the founder of the Hot Chocolate for Charity club, Ross sold more than 1,000 cups of hot chocolate to help procure sporting apparel for a local public school in Oklahoma City. In addition to this, Ross was an active member of Oklahoma Cleats for Kids, which provides athletic shoes and sporting equipment to kids in need. At the onset of the pandemic, Ross volunteered in Oklahoma City through Meals on Wheels, delivering meals to elderly people and those who could not leave their homes. Capping off this exemplary community service, Ross walked a nine-hour marathon in honor of the Oklahoma City National Memorial, Cleats for Kids, and Fields and Futures. This walk not only raised an enormous amount of money for these organizations throughout the pandemic, but it also inspired 20 other college students to follow in Ross’s footsteps by walking marathons themselves.
Ultimately, Ross’s dedication to his community has not gone unnoticed. Last September, he was selected to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, a national award that recognizes 22 collegiate student-athletes for their off-the-field service to their communities and campuses. This incredibly prestigious honor was not something that Ross applied for, nor something he even expected to receive. In fact, when the award committee asked him for pictures that showed him serving his community, Ross maintained, “I didn’t know I was doing this for an award or to be publicized.” Ross’s pure intentions to better the lives of those around him demonstrate his service-oriented humility, which has inspired student-athletes at UChicago and around the country.