Jessica Leonard | LCIS | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

Jessica Leonard

Jessica Leonard

Jessica is a Classics major and History, Latin, and Art History minor, graduating in the Spring of 2016. Students find their way to the Department of Languages, Cultures, and International Studies by a variety of different routes. Some know exactly where their interests lie, while others take some time in other areas before finding their calling. Jessica is no less unique.

“I was originally a geography major.  I needed a foreign language for my degree and decided to sign up for Latin.  Then Professor Taoka invited me to join the Classics Club.  At our first meeting I felt like I had a lot in common with the students and the professors in the department and I loved the small intimate size of it.  The day after the meeting, I changed my major to Classics.  I feel like I have found some lifetime friends in that department and that I am now being honest with myself to what my interests are.”

Many students enter college shortly after high school, but some choose to attend after spending some time “in the world.” Jessica falls into the latter camp, describing herself as non-traditional. Her experience led her to pursue scholarships immediately and fortunately she is this year’s recipient of two awards, one from CoLA (Griffin) and another from the SIU women’s club (Guyons).

“The scholarship excites me and humbles me at the same time.  It gives me reassurance that I am taking the correct path in life.  Being a Non-traditional student I have had to face many unique challenges.  I knew that when I came back to school at age 30, I would have to depend on getting excellent grades and volunteering so that I could get grants and scholarships to pay for school.  I wish that I had realized this 12 years ago when I first tried to attend college and I wish I could convince those coming out of high school that grades really do matter financially, academically, and they do have an impact on your future.  I hope that in my future I can give back and help others who are in the same situation I am by coming back to college to finish your degree.”

The education that Jessica has received will continue to further her goals. In the Fall she plans to apply to graduate school with the hopes of completing a Ph.D in Religious Studies, with a concentration in Ancient Mediterranean Religions and early Christianity.

“During this time I will also continue my study of ancient languages.  I intend to pursue a career back on a college campus researching and teaching others the wonderful lessons I will have learned. “

When asked if she had any parting words for her fellow SIU students she had the following to say:

“Be honest and make sure to represent who you really are.  Sometimes you may be more than you think yourself to be.”