James Foley, Writers @ Work

Upcoming Events - Writers @ Work

From Superfoods to Superheroes: Alumni Jakera Cooper Willis and Jordan Willis

April 20–23, 2022 – Jakera Cooper Willis (Psychology, '15) and Jordan Willis (Visual Arts and New Media, '14)

Spring 2022 Residency

Links with information about public events found at the bottom of this page. 

The State University of New York at Fredonia will welcome back alumni Jakera Cooper Willis (Psychology, ’15), an entrepreneur who has won national competitions for her food products, and Jordan Willis (Visual Arts and New Media, ’14), a storyboard revisionist with Marvel Studios, for a four-day residency on Wednesday, April 20 to Saturday, April 23. This residency, “From Superfoods to Superheroes: Creating Content to Inspire & Amaze!,” is collaboratively organized and sponsored by Writers @ Work with the Fredonia Technology Incubator, the Intercultural Center, the Keeper of the Dream Scholarship and Leadership Program, the Visiting Artist Program, and Visual Arts and New Media. All events are free and featured events are open to the public.

On the importance of returning to Fredonia, Willis said, “I have always loved working with students. I look forward to answering any questions that they may have, and giving back to the communities that shaped me.” Cooper Willis stated, “No one and no amount of planning can prepare you for life after college. I am excited to return to Fredonia to share my experiences, successes, and failures to affirm that you can be successful doing things you absolutely love to do.”

The founder of Jakera and Company, Cooper Willis works with entrepreneurs, influencers, and brands to bridge the food gap in underrepresented communities. She is a 2021 winner of Visa’s She’s Next award and a member of the second Target Forward Founders cohort. This program, as stated on the Target Forward Founders website, is “an accelerator program to equip historically under-resourced founders to become the next wave of generational wealth building companies.” She has worked in human resources with Endeavor, Google, Fullscreen Media, and Amazon. Cooper Willis is currently the marketing and communications manager for Elizabeth House, an organization offering shelter and services for pregnant women and their children experiencing homelessness.

Willis is currently a storyboard revisionist at Marvel Studios, where he is working on X-Men '97 (2023).  Since relocating to California, Jordan has worked for DreamWorks Animation and on the upcoming Sonic Prime show by Wildbrain Studios. He has strengthened his network and skills through courses at the Animation Guild and Concept Design Academy. He loves giving back to the communities that shaped him, and wants to inspire students to pursue their dreams. 

When asked about what they hope students would take away from their residency, Cooper Willis and Willis both indicated the goal of inspiring students to pursue their passions. Cooper Willis stated, “I hope that students understand the power of writing and are encouraged that whatever they want to do can be achieved through a little self-discovery, community, and believing that everything is possible.” Willis stated, “I would like to make sure that students know that as long as you are a good person, and as long as you work hard towards your goals, anything is possible.” 

On Wednesday, Apr. 20, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., Cooper Willis and Willis will host a moderated panel discussion called “Superfoods & Superheroes: A Conversation with Jakera and Jordan.” This event will feature acai bowls based on availability and will take place at the Williams Center, S-204, at SUNY Fredonia.

Cooper Willis shared the important role that Fredonia played in her success: “Fredonia was a place where I was able to explore, be curious and find community.” She continued, “I found out what I liked and didn't like. I was able to learn from being involved in many different programs and student groups that allowed me to gain experience that I'd use every day in my professional life.”

On Friday, Apr. 22, from 12-1 p.m., Cooper Willis will be the featured guest at a Founders Luncheon at the Fredonia Technology Incubator (FTI), located at 214 Central Avenue in Dunkirk, New York. The title of her presentation is “Building a Brand, Pitching a Vision with Jakera & Company, a Target Forward Founders Cohort 2 Member.” The event is open to the public. Campus community, local economic development community, and food-related start-ups are encouraged to attend. This event is free and open to the public..

For additional details and to see a complete list of events in this residency, visit events.fredonia.edu.

On the importance of writing in her career trajectory, Cooper Willis stated, “Writing has not only enabled me to advance my careers in unique and exciting ways, it has also opened the door to amazing opportunities in life and business.”

The Fredonia Technology Incubator works with external partners to promote economic growth by supporting entrepreneurship and development of new, innovative companies into successful business ventures. The incubator provides administrative and business services, mentoring, networking, professional consulting, education opportunities such as workshops, access to capital, and work ready space. For more information about the Fredonia Technology Incubator visit fredonia.edu/incubator, or find them on Twitter @Tech_Incubator or Instagram @fredtechincbtr. 

Writers @ Work is an alumni writers-in-residence series featuring both well-established and emerging writers, content creators and editors, and publishers in a range of professional and creative genres. The series seeks to connect Fredonia’s alumni, students, faculty, and community members while bringing attention to the diverse ways writing and the humanities make a difference in the world. For more information about Writers @ Work, visit fredonia.edu/academics/writers-at-work/about-writers-work.

Writers @ Work is sponsored by the Carnahan Jackson Humanities Fund of the Fredonia College Foundation, the Faculty Student Association, the Fredonia Alumni Association, the Fredonia College Foundation, the Fredonia Honors Program, the Fredonia Technology Incubator, the Keeper of the Dream Scholarship and Leadership Program, the Intercultural Center, the Visiting Artist Program, and Visual Arts and New Media. The series is made possible by a partnership with Admissions, Alumni Affairs, the Career Development Office, the Communication Department, the English Department, the Fredonia College Foundation, the Fredonia Honors Program, and the School of Business. This residency is made possible by a partnership with the Fredonia Technology Incubator, the Intercultural Center, the Keeper of the Dream Scholarship and Leadership Program, the Visiting Artist Program, and the department of Visual Arts & New Media.

Guidelines on Mask Wearing on Campus: Effective March 4, the wearing of masks at SUNY Fredonia will be optional for fully vaccinated and boosted individuals. Please note, however, that SUNY strongly recommends masks indoors for anyone who has not submitted documentation showing that they are fully vaccinated (including those with approved exemptions) or for anyone not boosted. Individuals who are completing quarantine and isolation must also wear a mask under the New York State Department of Health’s guidelines.


Superfoods & Superheroes: A Conversation with Jakera and Jordan 

Building a Brand, Pitching a Vision

Writers @ Work Upcoming Events

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