By Rachel Gray
Finding your family members’ names on University of Arkansas Senior Walk is a time honored tradition for U of A graduates. But for the descendants of Jackie D. Hancock Jr. and Jackie “Jackson” D. Hancock III, the search will take far less time. Father and son will have their names etched in stone right next to each other, as they both graduated with degrees from the university on Dec. 16.
“The stars just kind of aligned,” said Jackie, 57. “It wasn’t something we planned. It just worked out perfectly.”
Jackie originally attended the U of A in the late ‘70s before completing his degree at Park University in Kansas City. Students from the 1970s may well remember Jackie as being a member of the Pizza 7, a group of friends who were caught at the top of Old Main’s towers after rewiring the elevators to get them there. Describing himself as somewhat of a “corporate gypsy,” he, Jackson and wife Peggy traveled all over the country before settling in Memphis. Jackson attended Houston High School there and almost went a very different direction.
“He started out a Tennessee fan due to other family members,” Jackie says, grinning. “But when we brought him to his first Razorback football game there was no turning back.”
Junior year found Jackson near completion of his Communications/Political Science degree, when Jackie decided the time was right to come back to campus after relocating to Fayetteville.
“It wasn’t that I needed another degree,” he said. “I wanted to learn something new.” Jackie joined the Engineering department’s master program that year, where he began work on his degree in Operation Management.
While Jackson says the two never saw each other on campus, there were many perks to having his parents back home on the Hill.
“We’d proofread each other’s papers. We’d commiserate,” he says with a laugh. “They also lived close to Dickson Street so that came with obvious perks!”
After walking together in graduation, the duo says they plan to return to campus together again: to see their names on Senior Walk at the Senior Walk Dedication, hosted by the Student Alumni Association.
“It will be cool to come back for it,” says Jackson. “My parents passed on the importance of (Arkansas Alumni) membership to me from the beginning.”
“It kept us in touch, kept us connected to campus when we were constantly on the move,” adds Jackie.
Ultimately, the duo agree that the reason to come back was obvious.
“It’s a special place,” says Jackson.
Jackie nods his head. “That’s why we came back. People leave and come back and realize just how special (the University of Arkansas) really is.”