In the bustling world of higher education, where students juggle textbooks, lectures and deadlines, there exists a rare breed. Her name is Kaiyana Jackson, and she’s a self-taught hairstylist and second-year pre-nursing student at Florida A&M University.
Her journey is a testament to dedication, ambition and a passion for both science and style.
Jackson’s story begins in the heart of Lindenwold, N.J., where she was born on Oct. 8, 2003. She spent most of her childhood there before her family relocated to Atlanta. Jackson finished her secondary education in Atlanta, then came to Tallahassee for a tour of FAMU.
Though Jackson still had options for college, she believed FAMU was the right fit for her because of its iconic history and its home-like ambiance. Jackson said because of this, she could not see herself at any other institution.
“My first tour made me feel at home … I love the atmosphere, the spirit, and the history,” Jackson said in an interview with the Famuan. “I couldn’t imagine myself at any other HBCU, let alone a PWI.”
While many students find it challenging to balance the demands of nursing coursework, Jackson carved a niche for herself by developing a unique skill set outside the classroom. As a self-taught hairstylist, she found her calling in the world of beauty and by her own experiences. She said she wanted to empower individuals through self-expression when she began her career last October, twisting dreadlocks.
Jackson’s journey into hairstyling was anything but conventional. Armed with determination, she spent countless hours researching techniques, watching online tutorials, and practicing on friends and family.
With time and patience, her self-taught skills evolved into a true talent. What started as a hobby soon transformed into a small business as her clientele expanded through word-of-mouth recommendations.
As she walks the fine line between academic commitments and her burgeoning hairstyling career, Jackson attributes her success to FAMU and how the university taught her discipline, balance and how to compromise.
“FAMU has disciplined me a lot and has taught me that the work has to get done regardless of everything else going on,” Jackson said. “FAMU has taught me balance and compromise as well as prepared me for the next step of my life.”
Nevertheless, Jackson has honed a magnetic personality, allowing her to connect easily with those around her.
Bea Rene, a second-year criminal justice student and acquaintance of Jackson, said that Jackson is very strong willed and is ruled by determination when it comes to both school and her business.
“Since l’ve known her, Kai has always stood on business whether it was being a student or a stylist,” Rene said. “You can tell that she’s determined to reach every goal. She is very dedicated to both her business and education, and I have yet to see her let one out-value the other.”
Jackson serves as secretary of the FAMU chapter of Big Sister Little Sister mentoring program. She has aspirations of acquiring a master’s and doctorate in nursing through FAMU’s program, all while making plans to relocate to Chicago or Houston after her graduation.
Jackson is set to graduate in 2026 with her bachelor’s but is hoping to shorten it to 2025.