A first-generation college student, Jessica worried she wouldn’t fit in at Mills, but instead found a supportive community who introduced her to new cultures and experiences. She explored her interests in community development, politics, and policy—paving the way for her acceptance into the prestigious Schwarzman Scholarship Program where she’ll pursue a master’s degree from Beijing’s Tsinghua University upon her graduation from Mills.
How did you choose your major? I went on a humanitarian aid trip a few years ago that sparked my interest in community activism and local politics. Following that trip I interned for my local congressman. When I arrived at Mills, I was on a mission to learn as much as I could about the government and community development, so I would be prepared to act and make change. I chose politics, economics, policy, and law as my major because the program allowed me to look at the issues I cared about from a variety of lenses.
How has Mills helped you to speak up about a cause that's important to you? I am passionate about laws and policies regarding the educational advancements of economically and racially marginalized groups. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a lobbying day at the Capitol as a representative for Mills. I sat down with legislators to discuss Cal Grant and other accessibility initiatives for students attending private institutions in California. I also spoke with students from other private schools about how their institutions are working toward more inclusive regulations.
How did Mills prepare you for the prestigious Schwarzman Scholars Program? I knew how vital China’s role already was in the region but was intrigued by the opportunity to learn about China’s role globally. The Schwarzman Program is focused on creating leaders with a global and regional understanding of Chinese culture and commerce. The Mills community has been an integral part of my development as a student and as a leader. The social justice framework at Mills has been essential in developing how I think about critical issues inside the classroom and in practice. The Schwarzman Scholars Program’s main goal is to produce global leaders who act with integrity, intelligence, and compassion. The mentorship and scholarship I have received at Mills has prepared me to do just that.
How do you hope to use your education to make a statement in the world? Upon completing the Schwarzman Scholars Program I plan on returning to the states to serve in the United States Coast Guard Reserves. While serving part time, I intend on completing a PhD in American Military History with a focus on comparative development between the United States Department of Defense and the Peoples Liberation Army of China. My goal is to continue in public service in whatever way I can be of use to my community.