Students of MI: Jessica

“My parents moved to the United States to provide my sister and I a better education. Early on, I knew I wanted to go to college, and nothing would stop me because I knew how much my parents sacrificed for me. College was the first time I realized that I was Mexican, as weird as that sounds, and at home people tended to live in a bubble — so that was definitely an adjustment.

MSU has been an incredible journey for me because I enjoy meeting people from so many different backgrounds, and I was able to find what I’m passionate about: education. It’s difficult for people to know what they want to do early on, but I found it helpful to talk to people who are different from me. It’s great to understand these different perspectives and the fact that we are so diverse.

When I was applying to college, I wanted to be a teacher. When I came to MSU, I applied to the teaching program and although I loved it, I ran into a roadblock. You must pass a teacher certification exam to get into the College of Education, and I wasn’t able to do that. Just like many other students of color, I struggle because my school did not prepare me well enough for standardized exams. The good news is that roadblock is how I found my current major, which is Social Relations and Policy with a focus on education policy.

One experience that really opened my eyes was a fellowship with Teach for America. Sometimes when you’re a first-generation college student who doesn’t have the same vocabulary and education early on, you can feel distant from other people in the program. But for me, it really taught me to step up and think, “I can do this too.” You have to own the fact that you are just as capable as other students. Now, I’ll be interning for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and I’m very excited.

Studying abroad in South Africa was a special time in my life. I spent the trip working with nonprofit organizations and the goal was to help kids, especially black South Africans as they pursued a higher education. Seeing through a different lens and being around a community with people as passionate as me made me feel so committed to going back to my community through Teach for America. Every time I go home, I want to help kids who were in my position once, who are my neighbors, who are my cousins.

My ultimate goal is to become the first Latina Education Commissioner of Texas, however, I strongly believe that implementing effective education policy starts in the classroom. As an educator with Teach for America, I will gain hands on experience and insight to expand educational opportunities for children.”

(Jessica, Social Relations and Policy, Michigan State University)



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