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Valparaiso, Ind.

Graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Forensic Psychology and Women's Studies
Member of Triota and Psi Chi honor societies
Volunteer at Family Resources, Scott County jail, Habitat for Humanity
Student leader and organizer for VDay and Summit of Hope

What she gained at St. Ambrose

"More doors have been opened to me than I would have thought possible."

'Learn the Most About Yourself'

Jessica Pera thought she was independent, driven and committed to both academics and activism when she came to St. Ambrose. Her first, last and best lesson was how much more she had to give.

"I learned that I can be a leader and I can be even more independent than I was before," she says. "That I could be a straight-A student and be so driven with academics that more doors have been opened to me than I would have thought possible. I also found interests here that I didn't even know I had."

Jessica's resume would require a page alone to include the service activities she was part of as a collegian. Although she was drawn to SAU's Forensic Psychology program–one of three such undergraduate programs in the country–women's studies and women's issues became a passion, too.

"College is one of the hardest times of your life," she says. "It's also the time when you will learn the most about yourself and what you are capable of."

In her own words

Cite one major preconception you brought to St. Ambrose and describe how your experience here changed your mind.

When I came to St. Ambrose, I was somewhat worried about how the religious affiliation of the school might affect the opportunities I could have. I was wrong. My first year here, SAU hosted a performance of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. It blew my mind that a Catholic school would perform that. The fact that SAU did not censor their performing arts excited me. There were many events I thought SAU might not allow, but they have been great and very supportive of student interests, issues and passions.

Can you name one faculty member who challenged you and describe how they helped you through that challenge?

Katy Strzepek. My freshman year, I took Intro to Women's Studies. It was a very involved class with a lot of reading and assignments. It got me participating in current events and thinking about history at the same time. Katy never has a bad thing to say about anyone. She is always positive and truly cares about her students.

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