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Featured Student

Featured Student Jacki Horne speaks about her passions and interests as well as her involvement at Texas State University and beyond.   “I’m curious about how social media affects society’s empathetic responses toward marginalized groups through counternarratives and humanizing the other.”   Having thought about going back to school for five or six years, Jacki Horne was given the perfect opportunity to do so once COVID-19 hit. She wanted something meaningful because, like most people, she was feeling helpless during quarantine. And what better way to help than to play to her strength in language and to learn how to use rhetoric to create social change? Her friend and mentor Shaun Ford, MARC alumni from the class of 2015, further helped drive and inspire her to apply and get into the MARC program.  “I have loved it so far,” Jacki exclaimed as she spoke of her experience with the MARC program. After taking Dr. Eric Leake’s Empathy and Writing class last semester, she was inspired to approach her research from an empathetic lens and to study the effects of the accessibility of pole dance on social media regarding society’s empathetic response toward sex workers. This class has also changed her outlook on empathy in the ways it is thought of and created.   Like most second-year students, Jacki wishes her first year was in person, but she is grateful for the advancement of Zoom, despite the realness of Zoom fatigue. Additionally, she enjoyed working in the Writing Center as a graduate assistant and hopes to keep the friendships she made. However, she is ready and excited to go back to in-person instruction and to see all the changes on campus; Jacki earned her undergraduate degree from Texas State almost 10 years ago and hasn’t seen the campus since.     Looking toward the coming fall semester, Jacki is very excited to begin teaching English 1310. She has taught yoga and pole dancing, but now she gets to teach students to express and advocate for themselves through writing. She is also working on her thesis, and, like most thesis students, finds it difficult to stay narrow because there are different paths her topic can go, particularly the rabbit-holes she finds herself going down.    Jacki’s academic side has been greatly influenced by the work she does outside of university, particularly with her passion for pole dance as an art form and a sport that originated with sex workers. In fact, Jacki’s thesis topic and most of her academic work aims to advocate for sex workers, to ensure they are respected by others and given the same workers’ rights as other professions.
Because of her involvement with pole dance, Jacki is working to get her X-PERT Pole Fitness Certification, an opportunity she was granted from the oldest pole studio in Austin to help diversify the pole dance community. Jacki teaches at two different pole studios in Austin and works part-time marketing for a construction company. She is also preparing to go to PoleCon, an international pole dance convention, to continue her education with pole dance and to learn how to be a more inclusive pole dance instructor.  If she’s not at the studio or the library, you can find Jacki spending time with her partner, running errands at Costco, or outside somewhere in nature—sunshine is her therapy. But mostly, you will find her reading the latest on sex workers, equity and inclusion, such as The Queer Art of Failure by Jack Halberstam, which has influenced her to take a Queer Theory perspective and apply it to just about everything.