Alumni Spotlight: Jacqueline “Jackie” Benedict
by Stephen Reed
At our most recent reunion this June, Trustee Gregg Heineman caught up with some classmates who had come down from Canada. Jackie Benedict and Karen Sunday, both classes of 1980, were the first students in the 1970s to come from the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation to Northwood. Jackie’s arrival at or gathering coincided with her recent election as Chief for the District of Kawehno:ke under the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. She was one of four elected among eleven candidates. I recently caught up with Jackie to talk about her ascension to her new position.
Prior to her recent election, Jackie had been Manager of the Office of Vital Statistics for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. and most recently worked as Recruitment Clerk for Statistics Canada for the 2021 Census. Now she works full-time as a member of the Mohawk Council. Her second cousin, Abram Benedict serves as Grand Chief. Now that her seven children (four girls and three boys, ranging in age from a 41-year-old daughter to twin 24-year-old sons) are adults, she feels it is an ideal time to serve her community. Some of her primary goals include encouraging economic development, working toward a more environmentally sustainable community, and continued preservation of the Mohawk culture and language.
Jackie’s educational path was an interesting one. In our conversation, she mentioned how glad she was to attend Northwood for her freshman and sophomore years She was only thirteen when she arrived, and her relationships with classmates and teachers led to new perspectives on the world beyond her home. After Northwood, she attended Massena High School for part of a year but dropped out. In 1984, she got into Mater Dei’s Hogansburg campus via testing despite having no diploma. After two years on the Dean’s or President’s List, she earned an associate degree and in 1997 enrolled at Potsdam State University, graduating with honors and earning a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Writing. She noted she’s had a lifelong interest in creative writing. We wish her the best of luck with her fellow council members and her constituents.