Olympic Legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee Shares Wisdom With BRIDGE Students
by Sarah Hojsak
November 1, 2023
Jackie Joyner-Kersee is widely considered to be one of the greatest women athletes of all time. But despite having won three gold, one silver and two bronze Olympic medals, the proudest moment of her career was graduating from college, Joyner-Kersee told students during a visit to Drexel on October 30. “And also, you know, winning some medals,” she added with a laugh.
Joyner-Kersee joined a small group of current Drexel students from the BRIDGE programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, LeBow College of Business and Westphal College of Media Arts and Design for an intimate conversation about her inspiring life and career.
By sharing the story of how she decided to pursue track and field when others thought she should play basketball, Joyner-Kersee encouraged students to focus their goals on something they are passionate about. “Whatever your goals are, whatever you want to do—have that vested interest,” she said. “That vested interest will turn into an investment, and you will see the returns.”
Following her athletic career, Joyner-Kersee has focused her energy on philanthropy and civic engagement work through her Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation and a community center that serves young people in her hometown of East St. Louis, Illinois. Most recently, Joyner-Kersee published a children’s book, “Running for the Gold: Connecting Kids to Dreams,” as part of her mission to give kids the tools they need to become successful.
Joyner-Kersee encouraged BRIDGE students to build connections that will help them achieve their goals. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she said. “I take mentorship very seriously. Working with young people, I want you to be consistent and present. Stay true to who you are, true to your goals.”
Earlier in the day, Joyner-Kersee participated in Drexel Athletics’ Vidas Field Day, an annual event held in partnership with the West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood that encourages local kids to build confidence through athletic activities. Drexel student-athletes led activities for more than 200 students from Alain Locke Elementary School, each of whom went home with a copy of “Running for the Gold.” Drexel also distributed copies of the book to students throughout West Philadelphia.