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Jillian Jespersen
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

​Jillian Jespersen

Graduation year: 2016

Majors: Biology, pre-medicine 

Minor: Studio art

Activities: Phi Beta Kappa, Chi Alpha Pi sorority, Students for Ethical Global Awareness, tutor and former proctor for biology and chemistry departments

Post-grad plans: I will take a year off to explore the options I have for graduate school/professional school. I have not decided what I would like to do yet — but that’s OK!

Why Augustana?

My mother is actually an Augie alum, so when I was in the process of thinking about colleges, Augie was always on my mind because of its proximity to home (I’m from Rock Island). I’m quite the homebody, so Augie was a really easy choice for me — it was the only school I applied to! It’s a small school, it’s close to home and has a fabulous science department (and others, too!) —what more could I ask for?

Are you where you thought you'd be four years ago?

Definitely not — and I am so happy for that! My senior year has been a year of change and re-consideration. I came into college with the full intention of going to medical school, and now I will be leaving Augie as a diehard biology nerd. I will forever be grateful to Augie and its professors for helping me realize where my true passions lie.

Who helped you?

My professors — especially the biology department — have truly helped me realize that I am a biologist at heart. They (Dr. Koontz, Dr. Geedey, Dr. Larson and Bob especially) have encouraged me to keep an open mind. Without all of their help and advice, I would not have the confidence I do today about my decision to take a gap year and pursue biology.

A peak experience?

My peak experiences here at Augie have definitely come from being a part of the Chi Alpha Pi sorority. Finding a group of girls where I fit in and can totally and unapologetically be myself has been one of the greatest experiences I have had in college. Through this group I have met some of my absolute best friends, and I am incredibly sad to not be so close to them next year.

What did you learn about yourself that has surprised you?

Throughout high school, I was always a perfectionist. In some senses that’s a great trait to have; in others, though, it can be crippling. During these past four years, I have learned to loosen up and give myself a little bit of credit — to not be so much of a perfectionist. Through college, I’ve learned how to be a true ‘college kid.’ I know when it’s time to hit the books and when it’s time to take a break and have some fun. I will forever be grateful to Augie for teaching me to not be so hard on myself all of the time. I’ve also learned that five hours of sleep a night is the minimum to not be crabby the next day.

How did you use Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice to participate in a faculty research project with Dr. Larson my junior and senior years!

What will you miss the most?

Not being able to walk into my professors’ offices just to talk is going to be one of the hardest parts of leaving Augie, next to the fact that now I have to ‘really’ grow up. I know they’ll always be an email away, but those friendly conversations about anything and everything will seriously be missed.

Advice for the Class of 2020?

Don’t limit yourself! That’s something that I definitely did when I came to college. I entered school so close-minded; it took until senior year to finally realize where I belonged. Stay open to new opportunities and interests. You never know, you may run into your passion by accident like I did! Above all, stay curious. Take classes that interest you, not just ones for your major. That’s the point of going to a liberal arts school after all—take advantage of it!

“It has been a lot of fun watching Jillian embrace her passion for biology over the course of the year. She brings a skeptical and realistic nature to bear when discussing issues of conservation, ecology and social justice. Seeing her make connections among all these seemingly disconnected fields and being able to communicate these with her fellow students speaks to her ability to take a step back and consider the bigger picture.”

— Dr. Jason Koontz, associate professor, biology