Alana Jackson, M.S., is a songwriter, performer, and spoken word artist who has performed original work in cities spanning from NYC, to Belfast, Ireland. Her early experiences as a caregiver compelled her to pursue a career in medicine, but it wasn’t long into her college career before she determined that she couldn’t turn her back on the healing she had also found through music. After attending the Arts in Medicine Summer Intensive at the University of Florida and meeting others who shared her vision, she decided to honor her truth and blaze a trail marrying the two seemingly disparate passions through a rigorous undergraduate curriculum approval process while maintaining her pre-med coursework. She graduated with distinction from Duke University with a self-designed degree in the “Intersections of Public Health and the Performing Arts,” culminating her senior practicum with an original 20-person production focused on meditations around arts, illness, grief, and coping that continue to shape her outlook today.
Dedicated to working at the interface of arts and health, Alana has facilitated art projects for patients and communities of varying ages, circumstance, and abilities, and sings and performs spoken word bedside in hospital units. Alana additionally enjoys working with adolescents at Alachua Academy, a residential partner with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice for girls at risk for substance use and abuse. As the founder and former director of a dance class series for Parkinson’s Disease patients and their caregivers piloted at Duke based off Dance for PD, she laid the groundwork for sustainability of the program in existence today. This passion for promoting access to the arts informs many of the large-scale public health initiatives she has overseen and contributed to in Gainesville. Over the past several years, she has had prominent roles in programs such as Night of Dance, and in content development for Theatre for Health Outreach, HIV Awareness and Education, and theatre presented in Our Community Our Health, a nationally broadcasted webinar and town hall series hosted locally by UF HealthStreet. Much of her work in these arenas has focused on how theatre, dance, writing, and music can be used to enhance public health priorities and improve health outcomes. She continues to leverage her performance background in hopes of empowering communities that have lost their independence, identity, or physical abilities.
Alana strongly believes that humans have the capacity to change and be transformed through the arts. “The arts offer a beacon of hope, a chance to be productive, and opportunity to create beauty even in the most barren spaces. The sensibilities they cultivate, the connection we feel, the chance to express ourselves and tell our stories—the power of the arts is undeniable. We are better with the arts than we are without them.”