Jessa Waters

Jessa Waters

Program Coordinator of Student Services, University of Oregon
Portland, OR
Contemporary Media & Journalism, International Studies, 2012

"My advice to current students is to cultivate meaningful connections. It's at USD that you will create lifelong friendships, find mentorship from your professors and advisors and engage in a community that will allow you to find yourself, trust yourself and be yourself."

Q&A with Jessa:

Describe your current educational or professional pursuits.

I currently work for the University of Oregon, Portland Campus supporting graduate students in the areas of community building, career services, diversity and inclusion efforts and holistic student development. I also serve as a representative for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Socioeconomic and Class Issues Knowledge Community. I completed my Master of Arts in Postsecondary Educational Leadership and Student Affairs from San Diego State University (the other SDSU) in 2017. During my time at San Diego State, I worked in Student Life and Leadership supporting Commuter Life and Leadership and Service programming. Just after graduating, I returned to USD as a residence hall director for Beede/Mickelson Halls and my journey came full circle from living there as a resident to supporting the students and staff who resided there.

How did your USD experience influence your career path?

It is precisely because of my USD experience that I pursued a career in higher education. No one ever talked to me about how working for a university could be a career. These educators are right in front of our eyes while we're students, creating opportunities for us to engage and grow outside the classroom, but it took me moving away from USD and Vermillion to reflect and realize that I wanted to be someone who created community and a sense of belonging for others. Helping students realize and cultivate their potential is an amazing experience that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Tell us about your proudest achievement.

My proudest achievement is returning to school to pursue my graduate degree. That achievement is reflected daily in my interactions with students - celebrating their successes, supporting them through challenges and encouraging them to show up authentically and intentionally in whatever spaces they occupy.

What was your USD experience like? Were you involved in any campus organizations or activities?

I feel like I was involved in everything under the sun while at USD. I'm originally from Vermillion but still wanted the true college experience, so I lived in North Complex my freshman year and was part of a Living Learning Community that included the course, "Poker and the Meaning of Life." I am a proud Pi Beta Phi alum, met Katie Couric while working for the Volante, fell in love with Portland on a service trip through AWOL, Relayed for Life with Colleges Against Cancer, built community on the Orientation Team and maintained close ties to my hometown while pursuing a high-quality education. USD helped shape me into a hardworking, passionate and empathetic leader and educator.

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