Ashworth College Blog

Meet Dr. Christine Jax, chief academic officer

Written by Ashworth College on Tuesday, 15 May 2018. Posted in Why Ashworth

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We’re not so different from the students we serve. Like them, we each have our individual goals, dreams, personal roadblocks, and vision for who want to be and where we want to go. Here at Ashworth College, we’re all about inspiring and enabling students to be their best selves, so we thought we’d share insights into what motivates our staff to GO BEYOND the ordinary and always—always—strive for more.

Dr. Christine Jax joined Ashworth College as Chief Academic Officer in December. She is not only an authority in educational program development, organization, and innovation, she is a former Commissioner of Education for the State of Minnesota. She has shared her expertise during personal appearances on CNN, ABC News, and Discovery. Her quotes have appeared in Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, and National Journal.

Q: You came out of retirement to become chief academic officer at Ashworth College. What was behind that decision?

A: I’m fortunate to be at a place in my life where I’m not driven to do things to please or impress other people. I saw in Ashworth College a place where my knowledge could be put to use in a way that potentially serves hundreds of thousands of people. I understand education, I understand barriers to it, and I understand ways to help our students reach their potential. Being able to have a substantial, positive, and lasting impact on a life is much more fun than being retired.

Q: So let’s get right to the main question–what’s your primary motivator in life?

A: That’s a one-word answer: Inequality.

Q: Can you explain?

A: There’s nothing that will get me fired up faster than seeing an inequality or–worse–witnessing an inequality and not seeing anyone step up to address it. When I look back at my personal and professional life, I can see that as a theme. I founded and managed a school for homeless children in Minnesota and made sure my kids understood growing up that not everyone gets the same chances in life. Everything I do that I really care about is tied to balancing out the scale in some way.

Q: So what’s one way you feel you’re addressing inequality in your current role as CAO at Ashworth College?

A: It really changes from day to day, which I love. For example, I may spend time working with my team on how to ensure the cadence of classes makes sense for our students in any given program. Like students everywhere, a lot of our students fear the public speaking course, which used to be one of the initial classes they had to take. We pushed the course further back so that, now, our students can get some wins under their belts with other courses, and they’re better prepared to tackle that particular course when it comes up. That’s a very minor example, but it shows how we really try to think through the experience our students have with our courses and do everything we can to ensure a positive outcome for them.

Q: So we hear you used to have an interesting boss…

A: Yes, I get asked about that lot.

Q: Then it’s true?

A: (Laughs) Yes, Jesse Ventura was my boss. He hired me as the Commissioner of Education when he was Governor of Minnesota. There’s a funny story about my interview, where I basically blew him off because I had vacation planned and I didn’t want to cancel. But, as you can see, we worked it out. He was a great guy to work for.

Q: What’s your advice to Ashworth College students, or potential students, who are maybe struggling with where they are in life, or where they want to go?

A: My advice is you don’t have to have all the answers. Life has a way of unfolding if you take the steps to meet it. I truly and deeply admire our students for embracing their desire for something more or different out of life and choosing higher education as a way to get there.

Q: Last question. Tell us a surprising fact about yourself.

A: My husband and I are die-hard ballroom dancers and scuba divers.

Dr. Jax has a Doctorate in Education Policy and Administration from University of Minnesota, a Master of Arts in Public Administration from Hamline University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Child Psychology from University of Minnesota.

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