From Poetry to Psychology, This CNM Student is Determined to Help Others on Their Wellness Journey

Shakkri Ortega-Jackson is studying Psychology to help increase mental health awareness and support others through practices like writing, yoga, and dance
March 26, 2024

Shakkri Ortega-Jackson knows a thing or two about perseverance. 

She was previously enrolled at CNM in 2011 and 2020 but had to take breaks to focus on her family. Now, after enrolling a third time, she’s just a few months away from graduating and couldn’t be more excited. 

“I’ve always wanted to learn more about people and how our brains work, which is why I decided to study Psychology when I came back to CNM in 2020,” she says. “After taking a much-needed break to care for my daughters during the COVID pandemic, I re-enrolled in the program last summer, and now I can’t believe I’m already in my final semester.”

Even though Shakkri has attended CNM at various times in her life, she says the one thing that has stayed consistent is the people. 

“I’ve had the unique opportunity to watch CNM grow over the years, and the individuals I have met along the way have been so influential,” she says. “I have taken lots of great classes, in psychology and other areas, and in each of those classes I have met amazing individuals that have shaped me into who I am today, and for that I am forever grateful.”

Along with her course work, Shakkri is also a student editor for CNM’s student-led literary and fine arts magazine, Leonardo

With the help of the Leonardo faculty advisor Jessica Mills, Shakkri was invited to perform some of her original poetry at CNM’s Black History Month Jazz Festival back in February.

“I don’t perform poetry all the time, but my childhood dream was to be a writer so I decided to take the leap when Jessica asked me if I would like to share my poetry at the event,” she explains. “It was definitely nerve wracking, but I also found it really powerful to be that vulnerable and I want to keep exploring performing as a form of self-expression.”

After she graduates in May, Shakkri plans to continue her education and ultimately wants to earn her doctorate in psychology. From there, she would like to open her own practice with a focus on movement therapy, like dance or yoga, to help others on their mental health journey. 

As she reflects on her time at CNM, Shakkri wants to encourage others to trust themselves and go after what they want. 

“If you’re thinking about going back to CNM, or just to school in general, my best piece of advice is to not second guess yourself,” she says. “Don’t let yourself get in the way of going after something that you love and are excited to pursue.”