Reminder Assistant Editor
WESTFIELD In 2003 Teneshia Jackson was faced with what she calls a "LIFE bulb moment" a fork in the road.
Working in a cushy corporate job at IBM she was offered a promotion as a project manager only to turn it down to pursue a career behind the scenes in the hip-hop entertainment industry.
"I took a leap of faith," Jackson said in an interview with Reminder Publications. "I followed my passion and left the security of a corporate job in hopes of fulfilling my dream of learning the business of entertainment."
Five years later, Jackson is now the general manager of Rush Communications, the hip-hop marketing company of Russell Simmons one of Hip-Hop entertainment's most famous and successful moguls .
Tonight at 7:30 p.m. Jackson will be delivering her approximately 75-minute inspirational "DREAM" speech at Westfield State College (WSC) in the Scanlon Banquet Hall.
Jose Delgado, a senior communications major at WSC, an organizer of the event and Jackson's summer intern in 2007, said he has been working diligently since last semester to bring Jackson to WSC.
He explained he did not expect such hospitality, creative freedom and professional opportunities from Jackson when he first arrived at Rush Communications. Delgado said he was taken aback by Jackson's humility and eagerness to include the interns as equal members of the staff.
"She inspired me and motivated me to work harder," Delgado said. "It [the internship] really showed me that the sky is the limit."
As a first generation Puerto Rican-American from Springfield, Delgado said he had never expected to go to college let alone gain an internship at Rush Communications.
Delgado added that he wanted other students to hear Jackson's inspirational story of perseverance so that she may "motivate them as well as she motivated me."
Jackson said she has been sharing her story for the past year and a half with students, entrepreneurs, junior level associates and Girl Scout troops in the hopes that they will "walk away with the courage and inspiration to live out their passion."
She explained that she will be sharing seven of her own LIFE bulb moments, which led her to her current place and success in life.
"Originally when I got out of college, Corporate America required me almost to sacrifice my creativity and I was molded to play this role," Jackson explained. "It [Corporate America] is rule driven, whereas entertainment and/or hip-hop had the freedom to be creative. I didn't have to wear a stuffy suit everyday."
Jackson said growing up she was surrounded by hip-hop music and the message of hip-hop culture. She explained that it was that message that inspired her to change her direction in life in 2003.
"Hip-hop was really all I knew growing up," she said, adding that the hip-hop culture gave her "the mentality that I wanted to make it by any means. If there isn't a way, create a way [to succeed]."
"What makes me happy is that I followed a passion and that I was brave enough to do what I love," Jackson said. "My belief is if you follow your passion then the earning potential will eventually come."
Jackson has also been involved in many other projects throughout her short career in the hip-hop entertainment industry. She formed Egami Consulting Group, worked on the "Get Out the Vote" campaign in 2004 and the "Hip Hop Reader" to promote literacy in urban youth.
For more information about Jackson go to www.teneshiajackson.com.