Amanda Bennett graduated in May 2013 with an English and philosophy double major and graduate school ambitions—but she found she was not ready to leave.
“I had places I was serving in Jackson, places where I felt like I wasn’t finished yet,” Bennett said, listing her involvement with City Fellowship Baptist Church and J Crib Urban Ministries’ tutoring program. Many of her friends were also staying in the area.
“I felt like my roots were growing into Jackson,” Bennett said. Her parents moved often, so Jackson already felt like home and seemed like a good place to make the transition from college to adulthood, she said.
Now Bennett is a nanny to four-year-old twins and their one-year-old brother. She also works evenings as an ACT tutor at ScorePlus Academics. Bennett enjoys the flexible hours: “It lets me work a lot, but also have a life.”
On an average day, Bennett arrives at her nanny job before 8 a.m. and helps the twins’ mother get them ready for school. While the baby naps, she has time for journaling, Bible study and reading: “Kind of reflective time,” she said. “It doesn’t really feel like I’m at work.”
Around 11 a.m., Bennett takes the baby out for lunch and to run errands. This is fun, she said, because “when you bring a baby out in public, everybody is your best friend.”
During the baby’s afternoon nap, she makes phone calls and sometimes has friends over. Three days a week, she also picks the twins up from school and plays with them until their mother comes home.
Bennett’s tutoring hours end at 8 p.m. during ACT season and 5 p.m. at other times. A self-proclaimed extrovert, she makes evening plans with friends as often as possible.
While Bennett loves post-grad life now, she said the transition was difficult in unexpected ways. “In college, socializing kind of feels like a full-time job,” she said. “I didn’t realize how hard it would be not to run into people. Now if I want to hang out with somebody, I have to text them.”
Another challenge is going without the constant feedback and affirmation of a classroom environment. “If you’re doing well at your job, you won’t hear anything,” Bennett said. Her idea of a good day has also changed, she said, from a checklist of activities and tasks to a simpler rhythm of work and rest.
But the changes have been healthy, Bennett said. While she does plan on attending graduate school eventually, for now she is “just living in Jackson,” she said, “growing how I need to grow during this time . . . I have a full life here.”
Bennett said staying in Jackson has been one of her best decisions.
“It’s made my first year and half out of college a lot better than I think it would have been anywhere else,” she said. “I think if people are considering staying in Jackson for any reason, they should know that there’s a lot of life here, and there’s a lot of community, there’s a lot of light . . . They should not let fear of what Jackson is deter them, because this can be a really great place to plant yourself for a season or for a long time.”