Alana Jackson T'13

Alana Jackson (T’13) created a Program II major titled, The Intersection of Public Health and the Performing Arts, which was the first Program II major of its kind at Duke. Over the course of her undergraduate career, Alana worked tirelessly to take advantage of the excellent resources at Duke in both the arts and medicine through her coursework, through the United In Praise Choir, and by volunteering with the HAND program at Duke Hospital.

Alana’s senior distinction project included specialized training in conducting dance classes for people with Parkinson’s disease with the Mark Morris Dance Company Dance for PD program and setting up and overseeing a highly successful pilot project dance class series for people with Parkinson’s disease in the Durham area. This was done in conjunction with the Duke Dance Program and the Duke University Medical Center. She produced She w(Rites) of Passage, an evening-length multimedia performance with a cast of 25 student dancers, musicians, vocalists and spoken-word artists that included her original choreography, music, and spoken-word material and inspiration from the Dance for PD classes.

“Creativity is a gift,” Alana said in regard to her senior distinction project.

“Telling your story through an art medium can bring closure, new beginnings, healing and deeper understanding. The performing arts are a lens that I think could be a powerful tool for promoting healing and health, as opportunities for literal vocalizations of the self and achievements of voice as a means to health. I feel that through personal engagement and delving into these areas on an intellectual level, I have an experiential component and argument to ways in which these methods could be used in health education, self-advocacy, and reconstructing the culture of hierarchy of our healthcare systems.”