While in high school, Jessica Villar was an AmeriCorps volunteer. She completed over 700 hours of service as a tutor at a local elementary school. In high school, Jessica also participated in OSU-OKC's Upward Bound program and later bridged, successfully, to campus as a first-time student. Jessica is first-in-family to attend college and is an advocate for those who mirror her path. She represents the student voice in campus-wide discussions regarding the continuous improvement of support programs and services. Jessica is pursuing a nursing degree at OSU-OKC and is working at a local hospital. Her life goal is to open a health clinic that serves minority and undocumented members of the community. Jessica has a passion for service and gives, tirelessly, despite the academic pressures that accompany her path of study. Jessica represents the essence of the Newman Civic Fellowship program and is devoting her life's work to a social justice mission that will, no doubt, change the world.
As a Hispanic, first-generation college student I have realized the importance of identifying sources of help capable of answering questions associated with the path to degree completion. I have received this type of help and am committed to serving others in this capacity. While in college, I have volunteered as a campus recruiter helping prospective students, and their families, understand the path to degree completion. I have staffed freshman orientation activities and helped students acclimate to the campus environment. I have mentored students and provided encouragement and resources to those with varying levels of family support. I have presented my educational experiences, in a public forum, to the Chancellor of Oklahoma's system of higher education and to a panel of educational leaders from across the country. Regarding my contribution to bringing about social change, I served as one of four student co-researchers in a formal study that examined the experiences of OSU-OKC's retained students as the means by which to improve the experience. I know, first-hand, the barriers to degree completion and have navigated them with help, and success. I believe that participating in the Newman Civic Fellowship program would change my life and I am confident that my insights and perspectives would change the lives of others.