A former climber from JL’s first graduating class, Jenny Brown (pictured far left), talked earlier this month with a member of the Alumni Council about her past adventures and plans for the future.
Alumni Council Member: In a nutshell, where have you been and what have you been up to since your time as a climber and, more recently, as an RA?
Jenny: After graduating from JL in (gasp) 1995, I attended St. Catherine’s in Richmond for high school, then took a gap year to work and save up. That didn’t pan out as planned (laughs). In fall 2000, I started at Boston University (“BU”) for math and astronomy and graduated in 2004. I moved back to Virginia and worked for a year. Then, I returned to Boston and worked in the BU astronomy department for a couple years where I made a lot of good friends, people I still keep in touch with and visit as often as possible. I worked in the library and on the CRaTER project, which ended up being one of the instruments on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched in 2009. As a university employee, I was able to receive tuition benefits; so I started taking classes. I figured out that I was interested in studying social work, and began the graduate program at the BU School of Social Work. During my master’s program, and immediately after, I spent my time working with students in educational settings. I eventually made my way back to VA after a couple years. During all that, I met someone and did get married. As does often happen, though, life threw some things my way and changed things. That person and I are no longer together. I’ve continued to live in VA to be close to my family, but I miss Boston every day! Currently, I work for a company that provides various mental health services. I’ve been focused on home-based child and family counseling. In fact, last week I was offered a supervisor position, which I started today!
ACM: Was being an RA at JL different than what you had expected, having been at the camp as a climber? If so, how was it different?
J: Being an RA was more work and more fun than I had actually considered as a climber. And it was just as awesome as being a climber. Each summer [I looked forward to] coming back to that sense of excitement and family and belonging, being a part of something amazing. Having the chance to be an RA alongside folks who’d been fellow climbers back in the day gave the whole experience a sense of completeness that seemed to elevate everything I got to experience and learn.
ACM: What are one or two lessons that you learned at JL that have best served you in life?
J: That’s a big question (laughs). One thing that has been vitally important in my personal life and professional work and development is the importance of being an equal opportunity friend-maker. Until you take the time to really get to know someone, you’ll never know how wonderful they can be. The other lesson is that EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT. This applies all over the place in my life. Higher education is an investment in yourself. Make it a good one – one you can use and is important to you.
ACM: Favorite JL memory – either as climber or RA?
J: Let’s see, so many … I think I’ll pick choreographing dance routines with the “squad” during free time as a climber when JL was at Christchurch. We were so ridiculous; it was so much fun!