Tracing Her Roots

Jessica Lizardo

Jessica Lizardo '17 

Jessica Lizardo ’17 connected with her parents’ homeland in meaningful ways. She discusses her research on Dominican-Haitian relations, her love of dance and South American cultures, and how her experiences of moving to the U.S. inspired her to work with immigrant children.


Sociology (educational studies minor).

Clubs and organizations:

Montgomery Service Leaders, Multicultural Ambassadors, Delta Nu and Anwar Belly Dance.


Posse Scholarship and Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Favorite book:

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.

Favorite movies:

Waiting for "Superman" and The Pearl Button.

Proudest accomplishment so far:

I was born in the U.S., moved to the Dominican Republic at age 1 and came back to the U.S. at age 9. I am most proud of learning a new language at age 9 and being in the place that I am in right now. By overcoming my fears and working hard, I was able to learn the English language. This motivated me to continue working hard, and it led me to believe that anything is possible when you are willing to put in the work.

Favorite place on campus:

Delta Nu House.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Roasted broccoli (to die for)!

On studying abroad:

I am currently studying abroad in South America. Through the Dickinson in  South America program, I’m able to immerse myself in Ecuadorian and Argentinean cultures, and it has sparked my interest in learning more about social injustices in South America. I plan to share what I’m learning with people in the U.S.

As a kid, I wanted to be …

… a veterinarian. I mean, what child doesn’t love animals?

Jessica Lizardo



I wouldn’t call it a talent, but I love to dance to Latin music. Bachata, salsa and merengue music runs through my veins.

On choosing a major:

One day I asked one of my friends, “Why are you majoring in sociology?” He said, “Well, I need to know about this world, and societies in general, so I won’t be screwed over by them.” After one sociology course, I knew that it was the perfect major for me. As a sociology major, I learn something new every day regarding the injustices of this world, and that inspires me to act upon them.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

Fight for what you love, what you are passionate about. And don’t ever doubt yourself. I have learned that anything is possible, and that this world has endless opportunities.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I am an aspiring educator, mentor, activist and community leader. My career goal is to establish a nonprofit organization for immigrant students coming to the U.S., a population that I believe is often forgotten, to help them acclimate to U.S. culture and navigate the English language. As a former ESL student, I’ve had amazing educators who paved the way for me to attend a private institution with incredible resources. Because of this, I want to give back. I want to make it my mission to advocate for [immigrant students], so that they can have the appropriate resources to thrive in this world.

Personal philosophy:

In order for this world to become a better place, one must give back.

About my research:

Last December, after 10 years of not stepping a foot in the country that my parents were born in, I was able to reconnect with my Dominican roots when I went to the Dominican Republic with a goal to get to know my country, its history and culture. While I was there I noticed the injustice and hostility that Haitians faced each and every day. This made me want to know more about the problem, and it has inspired me to get involved.

I’m using my sociology and education backgrounds to explore a topic in race and education that has hardly been spoken about. I plan to write my senior thesis on Dominican-Haitian relations, specifically focusing on race and education. During the winter break of 2016, I intend to conduct ethnographic research in the Dominican Republic, exploring how Dominicans of Haitian descent and Haitians living in the Dominican Republic navigate an educational system that is often stacked against them.

Learn more

Published November 18, 2016