Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? –Mary Oliver
Jessica loves exploring the intersection of politics, public health, and the environment through researching and reporting. She is also curious about human and civil rights, gender and sexuality, and peace and labor movements. Jessica graduated magna cum laude from Ithaca College, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism and politics with an international studies concentration. She is currently based in Portland, Maine, where she is a staff writer for Common Dreams.
A traveler, concertgoer, and collector of books, she occasionally writes reviews on GoodReads. Jessica is a trained dancer and yogi (which she’s written about) — a health nut with a deep affinity for strong black coffee, chocolate-covered strawberries, and German chocolate cake. Whenever she has a spare moment, she enjoys Twitter and Chicago sports. She was born and raised in the Western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.
Jessica has freelance fact-checked a book as well as articles for multiple media outlets, including Rolling Stone magazine, Splinter (formerly Fusion), and VICE, with a focus on long-form and legally complex features. She freelance writes and fact-checks for In These Times, a Chicago-based magazine for which she interned during college. In 2014, Jessica covered New York state politics for The Ithaca Voice. For six months, she worked full-time as an editorial intern for The Nation magazine. She has since returned to The Nation for freelance fact-checking and to fill in for the internship director and vice president of communications while they were on vacations.
For the internship director, Jessica oversaw fact-checkers and coordinated with the copy department to close print issues of the magazine and prepare daily articles for the website; for the vice president of communications, she booked writer and editor appearances on radio and television shows, completed a research project, drafted an award submission, and managed official correspondence with readers and media professionals.
Since the summer of 2011, she has been a volunteer staffer for Chicago International Model United Nations, which brings more than 1,200 high school students from across the globe to Chicago for the annual four-day conference. Students participate in political simulations that enhance their understandings of diplomacy and international affairs. Jessica chronicled CIMUN X for Best Delegate following the 2014 conference.
Attending CIMUN as a high school student solidified Jessica’s passion for exploring politics in her writing. She began developing her journalism skills by working for the Kaneland Krier—an award-winning student-run news magazine at her high school—and substantially enhanced her print, online, broadcast, and social media skills during college, through multiple internships and editorial roles with Buzzsaw magazine and The Ithacan.
In 2013, Jessica traveled to Washington, D.C., as an assistant producer for “Meet Me at Equality,” a documentary by Dr. James Rada about the March on Washington of 1963. The film aired on D.C.’s PBS affiliate. The experience enabled Jessica to explore documentary filmmaking and utilize skills she had gained as an assistant producer for Ithaca College Television’s Newswatch 16.
Later that year, Jessica ventured across the Atlantic to study at the Ithaca College London Center. While in London, she interned for Peace News, a grassroots peace and justice newspaper. She also volunteered at an Oxfam shop near the ICLC and traveled Europe. Jessica blogged about her semester abroad, and maintains two additional blogs: one dedicated to journalism and personal essays; and one focused on media analysis and observations.
At Ithaca College, Jessica was a member of the Park Scholar Program, a prestigious scholarship program that grants four-year full tuition awards to students at Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications. Scholars are selected for academic achievement as well as media and community service involvement; they are expected to maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA and take on numerous extracurricular leadership roles.
Through the Park Scholar Program, Jessica participated in Media Club, one of the program’s group service projects, by instructing courses to enhance media literacy among students at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School and Ithaca High School. At the Ithaca Youth Bureau, Jessica led Media Club’s DSLR camera workshops for adults with disabilities. She also served as a teacher’s aide at South Hill Elementary School.
Jessica oversaw and copy edited the Park Scholar News Feed, in addition to writing articles. She also managed the program’s Twitter account and copy edited the Park Scholar Annual Report, which includes scholar profiles and details about program activities. She served as the program’s office assistant, a paid position, during two spring application seasons, and as a class representative for the Park Scholar Advisory Board.
At Ithaca College, Jessica participated in multiple campus organizations, including: Be Irie, The Front Row Foundation, IC Human Rights, Service Saturdays, Media Alliance for People and the Planet (MAPP), and the Class of 2015 Senior Cabinet’s Give Back Committee. She was a member of the college’s Honors Program, the Society of Professional Journalists, Phi Kappa Phi, and Lambda Pi Eta. In 2015, Jessica received the Ithaca College Journalism Department’s Faculty Award, which recognizes one of the department’s graduating students for exceptional academic achievement.
(Photos, left to right: Jessica leading a DSLR cameras workshop for the Park Scholar Program’s Media Club; assisting with ICTV Election Center 2014; receiving her bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College’s president; standing with the Deputy Chief of Staff at CIMUN XII; hiking to the Hollywood sign while visiting friends in California.)