Listening With Intention

jessie Jansen '18

Jessie Jansen ’18 

John Dickinson Scholar Jessie Jansen ’18 first stepped into the limelight during her first year on campus, when she won the First-Year Seminar Writing Award. Now, she continues to excel, both in class, and as a Hillel and Alpha Phi Omega student-leader, tutor and CommServ volunteer. She discusses the importance of listening and authenticity, her experiences in helping to develop a student-faculty research project on the psychology of smoking and the gratitude she feels for the students and professors who have “blown [her] mind.”


Psychology (minor in educational studies).

Clubs and organizations:

Hillel Board, Alpha Phi Omega (Service Fraternity Abroad Chair), CommServ (volunteer) and Norman M. Eberly Multilingual Writing Center (tutor: Hebrew).


John Dickinson Scholar, First-Year Seminar Excellence in Writing Award and Alpha Lambda Delta.

Favorite book:

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart. I firmly believe that there would be world peace if everyone everywhere sat down and read this book. And if not world peace, at least there would be a lot more appreciation in this world for the art of storytelling.

Favorite movie:

Lilo & Stitch. It has aliens, Hawaii, Elvis, a hilarious and spunky leading lady, and a heart-wrenching moral, and it hates on mosquitos. What more does a movie need?

On choosing Dickinson:

I remember visiting campus on a rainy day and getting a smile from everyone with whom I spoke. I also remember, for the first time on a college visit, making a genuine connection with a current student. Also, the KOVE was serving lasagna that day, and it was delicious.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

General Tso’s chicken (shout out to Ricki and Louise, the masters of the KOVE).

On choosing a major:

I picked psychology because it is, objectively, the best major of all! It is a major that allows me to study the world in a scientific way, while learning things that I can apply to my humanities-based understanding of the world. I love the way that psychology allows me to find objective answers to my questions. Most of all, I love the opportunities that psychology affords me. It’s a major with so much potential.

Biggest influence:

My parents. They are both completely magnificent in a million different ways. My mom is funky, generous and beautiful, and my dad is just as dorky as he is gentle and loving. They taught me to be appreciative of everything I have and showed me how to truly enjoy quiet moments. They also taught me to love learning, which, I believe, is what has been the key to all of my success.

About my research project:

I have the privilege of working in Professor of Psychology Marie Helweg-Larsen’s lab, researching how smokers react to stigma. Designing and building an experiment has helped me better understand everything that I am learning in my Research Methods class. More importantly, it has given me the opportunity to understand why research can actually be fun! I get to be a small puzzle piece in finding the answer to a question that nobody has ever asked before. Soon, we are going to have a deeper understanding of why people act the way that they do. That’s so stinking cool!

What I’ve learned:

I’ve learned that attention to detail is key. Psychological experiments have to be tight, and it is important to get it right when you are collecting data (it would be very expensive to try and start over again). More importantly, I learned that research is pretty exciting. I never would have guessed that spending time in a lab coat, getting my blood pressure taken 17 times in as many minutes or designing a test of reaction time could be so thrilling!

Favorite thing about Dickinson:

As a Jew, it has sometimes been hard to be who I want to be. Even though it has not always been easy, [Dickinson] is a school where I can always be myself.

Most important thing I’ve learned (so far):

So far, Dickinson has taught me to spend my time with people whom I admire. I have friends here that I never could have made anywhere else, who think about the world in a completely different way than I do. Last weekend I got to visit the student home in the boarding school where my friend grew up. I was so honored to step into a life completely different from my own. She shared a story with me that I otherwise never would have heard.

This school has also taught me to reach out to others who have something to share with me. In my time at Dickinson, I have started to learn how to really pay attention to other people’s stories and what they have to say, and to see how that pushes the boundaries of what I believe. My peers and professors have introduced me to so many new topics of conversation and experiences. I am so grateful that they’ve blown my mind.

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Published January 22, 2016