When Academics Aren’t Enough: Girl Boss Jencee Reardon

Over winter break, I was fortunate to be able to travel to Bolivia, and one of the amazing women on the trip was Jencee Reardon. Jencee always contributed insightful comments to group discussions, and her quirky nature made her hyper-approachable. After getting to know her better, I was stunned by the sheer amount of work she does outside her major for the UW community. I was lucky enough to sit down with her and ask a few more in-depth questions about things she participates in.


Her Campus: Where are you from originally?

Jencee Reardon: Sheridan, but I went to high school in Laramie.

HC: How did you end up at UW? What are you studying?

JR: I moved to Laramie so I could go to UW because I was living in Montana, but I really wanted to get in state, so I moved in with my sister. I am studying Chemistry with a minor in Physiology and Molecular Biology. I plan to graduate May of 2017.

HC: What activities are you involved in? How long have you participated in them? What are your duties?

JR: I work at the Cathedral Home for Children, and I teach a class at the Lab School called Smart Girls. I’ve been doing that since I was a senior at Laramie High School. It’s a program that teaches girls how to have positive pro-social interactions with their peers.

HC: How did you get started with that?

JR: Smart Girls started in Denver, and the Gender and Women’s Studies program wanted to incorporate it into the Lab School. Dr. Colleen Denney is friends with one of my teachers at Laramie High School and asked if there was a senior who would be good to be a facilitator for the group. So my teacher gave her my name and I went to this training in Denver with other students from UW. I run it with a counselor assistant right now. It’s really great. We get a lot of repeat girls, which is really nice. You can see the change in them from one year to the next.

HC: What is the curriculum like?

JR: A lot of it is play and game-based. There are games they play and then they’ll have discussion. The Alligator Game teaches communication and teambuilding skills. You have to rearrange yourselves in a box without stepping out. It’s really fun and I enjoy it a lot. Just games like that. I also did Big Brothers, Big Sisters with AmeriCorps for two years. I had the same girl for two years, and she was pretty cool.


HC: What was your experience with Big Brothers, Big Sisters like?

JR: It was really interesting because she was really quiet for the first couple of months, and she also had some minor learning disabilities, so one of the things we did a lot was go to the library and pick out books, which was kind of fun. Her parents didn’t really have time to take her to the library because they worked a lot, so I think that I really got to see her kind of learn to love reading, which is really cool. That really helped because she opened up to me a lot and told me a lot about what was going on with her family and how her school life was going. It was cool because she was very quiet and not very assertive when we first met. In the second year, she would tell me what she wanted to do and she actually came up with some of her own ideas.

HC: Can you tell me about your experience with Alternative Breaks?

JR: The first Alternative Breaks trip I went on was when I was a freshman, and we went to San Diego. The focus was Environmental sustainability, which is what we just did in Moab, which was interesting because they were very dissimilar. In San Diego we learned a lot about the impact that the Mexico-US border had on the environment, but then in Moab, we learned about the cryptobiotic crust, which is a living crust that stops the earth from eroding. It’s really slow growing, so that was a big focus on what we were trying to protect. Then, my sophomore year, I went to San Francisco, and the focus there was supposed to be homeless youths, but the service site the first day said they didn’t need us, so we found other places around San Francisco that needed help with homelessness and children in other areas. We didn’t necessarily work with homeless youths, but it was still really cool. And then my junior year, I went to Trinidad and Tobago, and that focus was women’s development, and we did what was kind of like a community beautification project, so we painted walls and made benches where you could see the ocean. And then I went on a trip to Bolivia, which was the most recent one I went on as a participant. And then Moab. The leading versus participating aspects was very enlightening. I have a greater appreciation for my last trip leaders.

HC: What were some of the differences you noticed as a trip leader in Moab this spring break?

JR: I think going as a participant you can spend more time focusing on the issues and what you’re feeling about the service, whereas when you’re a trip leader, you have to worry about that, but then you also have to lead the discussions amongst the teams. You also have to worry about details like where you’re going to sleep and food and who’s going to drive, just the logistics of being a trip leader was a lot different. I enjoyed it because I felt like I was able to look at it from both sides, because asking questions I tried not to put my own thoughts and feelings into it, but make it broad so people with other opinions could come to those conclusions themselves. So it was really interesting. It reminds me a lot of my job because we have to ask those insight questions and let people come to those conclusions themselves, whether it’s good or bad.


HC: Outside of Alternative Breaks, are you involved in anything else on campus?

JR: I am part of pre-med club, when I can attend meetings. And Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-med fraternity.

HC: What is your greatest accomplishment since coming to UW?

JR: I think being able to balance my schedule in a way that I can put just the right amount of effort into everything to be successful. It took me a few years to figure out, but I think I’m in the right place now to do that.

HC: What challenges at UW have you overcome?

JR: I think it’s really difficult to be a woman who is interested in the sciences. That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of women in my field of study and the classes I’m taking, but even as a sophomore or junior, people would look at me when I asked a question and seemed more impressed than they did when my guy friends would answer questions in the exact same way. I think more women are getting into science, and I really dig that. I want more women to be involved in sciences.  


HC: What are you future goals?

JR: I am applying for med school this summer and really hoping to get into the WWAMI program. I’ll be here an extra year, which wasn’t really planned, but it’s okay. I’ll use that time to really brush up on my interview skills. I’m planning on applying to med school during the summer and I eventually want to do a specialty in pediatrics. I want to work with kids – I really enjoy my job right now at the Cathedral Home for Children because I really love working with kids and I want to do that more.

HC: What is the best advice you can offer a woman at UW?

JR: Get involved. Try everything. My freshman year, I originally wasn’t going to do the spring break trip my freshman year, but my roommate convinced me to do it because it was something I wanted to do, but wasn’t sure it was the right fit for me. But I ended up loving it and doing it three years in a row. Don’t be afraid to try something new. If you love it, that’s great, and if not, try something else.