A Bookshelf at an Angle

Alumni Profile

Annetta Jackson: Graduate Fights for Civil Rights

When she was just five years old, Annetta Jackson told her Mum two things; firstly, she was going to stop sucking her thumb, and she was going to be a lawyer. While she didn’t necessarily know what that meant at the time, it was a key decision that stuck with her throughout her life.

Growing up, Annetta developed new interests like photography and journalism, but none of them could quite compare to the true love of her life, which is the law. 

“Law is so important. Not just for lawyers, barristers or attorneys, but Law has such an impact on many other facets of life. It has an influence on how we do policy and governance, how we interact with people and relationships. Law is such an important subject to study and it helps shape you to think critically and do things in a better way.” 

When it came to choosing somewhere to chase her passion, Annetta was bowled over by the support and facilities available at UWL. 

“It’s such a lovely, lovely place. I wanted somewhere with great student satisfaction ratings. A lot of schools don’t care about students. I really liked the fact that they had a mock courtroom and an extensive library.” 

As an international student, for Annetta to move to the UK was a bold, brave step. London made sense, as the legal system in the UK closely mirrors the set-up of Annetta’s home in Antigua, but that’s not to say it wasn’t a massive change: 

“Antigua is small, and London is very, very large! I think you can fit AntiguaAJ3 into London four times over. Plus, you know, London is London. Everyone loves London. Why not study in a city that has such rich legal history? That’s where the inns of court are, that’s where the Old Bailey is. So, I thought let’s go there, let’s study and be immersed in all that history, which is really cool to me.” 

Annetta’s time at UWL was littered with success, winning law prizes and graduating with a first-class degree! But alongside throwing herself into her course, Annetta was determined to explore as much of London as possible during her time here: 

“I feel like people who live in London don’t fully appreciate the city that they live in. That’s probably the case with a lot of people with the places they live. Everyone was like ‘Annetta how do you know about all these places?’ but I just really liked the variety. I could just get on the bus to Kew Gardens, go and see different corners of the world in that one little space.” 

It was these experiences that the young lawyer accredits with helping to form her views and shape her as a person. Especially impactful were her lecturers, such as Colin Bob Semple whom, she suggests, believed in her and pushed her to be better beyond the university system. Perhaps, therefore, this explains how Annetta has gone on to become such a successful change-maker. 

“I really really love Human Rights. To have a comfortable life, you need to protect Human Rights. I love the environment because I live on an island and I’d be the first person to be vulnerable when climate change takes effect. You have to ask, what do you care about?” 

AJ2After graduating, Annetta decided to do the Bar Course which she wound up completing during the Global Pandemic year. While doing this, she continued the work in feminist activism and advocacy she began before her final year at university. Enjoying the opportunites these spaces offered to her, she elected to continue the job in Antigua by working as a storyteller for Intersect, a feminist community service. In this role, she researches and produces infographics helping raise awareness about important issues affecting women in the real world. 

She is also helping to manage a project alongside the Death Penalty Project UK, campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty in the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados. This is an issue that’s incredibly close to Annetta’s heart. 

“We are funded by the EU and are trying to work towards the abolition of the death penalty. Human rights issues are really close to me; I think about them all the time. I’m so happy and blessed to be working in the field that I do, and with the people that I do.” 

As a project manager, Annetta has many roles. Some of these, she thinks, may be outside of her scope but at least it gets the job done. From engaging stakeholders, to conceptualising ideas and finding the right spaces to have the right conversations, to managing sub-projects and putting out educational toolkits, Annetta certainly has her hands full. 

“But being out here allows me to see the changes I am making up close, and in real time!” 

Annetta aims to continue in her education, taking part in a six-month legal educationAJ1 certificate programme in September. This will allow her to convert her qualification so that she can practice law in Antigua. Currently, as part of her work with Intersect, she is working with a law firm in Northern Ireland to challenge buggery laws in Antigua and Barbuda. 

Asked what advice she would hand over to recent graduates and current students, Annetta said: 

“I would really just say that everything takes time. Just because you study one thing doesn’t mean you have to use your degree in that way. You don’t have to know everything right now either. It’s hard to ask for help but you should, because that might just be the lightbulb moment, you’re waiting for to help make a lot of things clearer. Finally, I guess take your university experience seriously. University will shape who you are as a person.”

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