From Ann Arbor to Africa to ADPR2200

Jenna sits opposite me in Johnston 300, dressed cozily in a sweatshirt and leggings to protect her from the crisp early-autumn air. Neither of us really expected this — having to conduct an interview, having to actually interact with classmates — yet it only took a few minutes for us to warm up to each other and fall effortlessly into the conversation.

After spending part of her summer in Cape Town for a study abroad trip, Jenna gained a lot of perspective on the world and, maybe more importantly, herself. While abroad, she realized how important the people in her life were, and throughout the trip, she found herself wishing her friends were there to experience Africa with her. “My friends make me happy,” she said, and then explained that she likes her friends to push her out of her comfort zone. Jenna described herself as an open-minded, eager-to-learn introvert, so this makes sense; she wants to explore, yet feels held back by herself, and her friends help her step away from that barrier and help her become herself.

What she said resonated with me. Like her, I’m the introvert with the outgoing friends, the ones who urge me to put pants on and go outside, to stop being afraid of failing or falling or getting lost. It’s hard to escape your own head, and good friends help you do that.

Jenna doesn’t always need someone else to push her, though. Despite living in Ann Arbor, Jenna decided to make the move down to Milwaukee, WI, to pursue an education and find her passion, away from her family and hometown. With a smile, she said, “I’m here because I didn’t want to stay close to home; I wanted to get out and [Marquette University] felt like the right place.” Her pursuit thus far has been a unique one. Although undoubtedly stressful, changing her major from mathematics to education to communication studies to corporate communications taught Jenna a little more about herself each time, getting her one step closer to finding out who she is.