Fredonia alumni to explore ‘creating content to inspire and amaze’ at Writers@Work residency
SUNY 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 through Saturday, April 20 to 23.
Their “From Superfoods to Superheroes: Creating Content to Inspire & Amaze!” residency is collaboratively organized and sponsored by Writers@Work with the Fredonia Technology Incubator, Intercultural Center, Keeper of the Dream Scholarship and Leadership Program, Visiting Artist Program, and Visual Arts and New Media.
Featured events are free and open to the public.
“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,” Mr. Willis commented on the importance of returning to SUNY Fredonia.
“No one and no amount of planning can prepare you for life after college,” added Cooper Willis. “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. The program, according to 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.”
Cooper Willis has worked in human resources with Endeavor, Google, Fullscreen Media and Amazon. She is currently the marketing and communications manager for Elizabeth House, an organization offering shelter and services for pregnant women and their children experiencing homelessness.
Mr. Willis is currently a storyboard revisionist at Marvel Studios, where he is working on X-Men '97 (2023). Since relocating to California, Mr. Willis has worked for DreamWorks Animation and on an 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 what they hope students would take away from their residency, Cooper Willis and Mr. Willis both indicated the goal of inspiring students to pursue their passions.
“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.” - Jakera Cooper Willis
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.” Mr. Willis added, “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, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Cooper Willis and Mr. Willis will host a moderated panel discussion, “Superfoods & Superheroes: A Conversation with Jakera and Jordan.” This event will feature acai bowls based on availability and will be held at Williams Center Room S204.
Cooper Willis shared the important role that Fredonia played in her success, explaining that “Fredonia was a place where I was able to explore, be curious and find community…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, from noon to 1 p.m., Cooper Willis will be the featured guest at a founders luncheon at the Fredonia Technology Incubator, 214 Central Ave., Dunkirk. Her presentation is “Building a Brand, Pitching a Vision with Jakera & Company, a Target Forward Founders Cohort 2 Member.” Campus community, local economic development community and food-related start-ups are encouraged to attend.
There will also be a meet and greet with the two guests on Friday from 4 to 5 p.m., in the Intercultural Lounge in Williams Center Room S226B.
For additional details and to see a complete list of events in this residency, visit online.
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.”
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 online.
Writers@Work is sponsored by the Carnahan Jackson Fund for the Humanities of the Fredonia College Foundation, the Faculty Student Association, Fredonia Alumni Association, Fredonia College Foundation, Fredonia Honors Program, Fredonia Technology Incubator, Keeper of the Dream Scholarship and Leadership Program, Intercultural Center, Visiting Artist Program and Department of Visual Arts and New Media.
The series is made possible by a partnership with Admissions, Alumni Affairs, Career Development Office, Department of Communication, Department of English, Fredonia College Foundation, Fredonia Honors Program and the School of Business. The residency is made possible by a partnership with the Fredonia Technology Incubator, Intercultural Center, Keeper of the Dream Scholarship and Leadership Program, Black Student Union, Brother 2 Brother, the Visiting Artist Program and the Department of Visual Arts and New Media.