Jessica Lewis

361Jessica Lewis

Position: Marketing Director at Sportrock Climbing Centers and pursuing a Masters in Counseling at George Washington University

Field: Counseling

Graduated: 2003 with a B.A. in American Studies and Sociology

While pursuing my Sociology degree at the University of Mary Washington, I had the opportunity to take a course, Controversies in American History, with Dr. Crawley in the History Department as part of a general education requirement. I was immediately drawn to how complimentary the subject matter was to what I was learning in my Sociology classes. I had already been considering a double major, but I didn’t want to take on something that would pull me away from my primary passion and I was already in my junior year. Though I enjoyed History, it felt like too broad of a subject to take on and I knew I wanted my focus to be on the lives of those in the United States. I began doing some research on the American Studies program and met with my Academic Advisor. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of my Sociology courses would count towards this degree. My advisor told me it would be easy for me to complete this second major without delaying my graduation. What I loved most about the American Studies degree was that it allowed me to take classes from a variety of disciplines, all while adding new perspectives to the work I was doing in Sociology.

As graduation drew near, I was uncertain what I wanted to do next. A recruiter for AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps visited the campus and I stopped in to hear about the program. I was unfamiliar with it at the time, but I had considered joining the Peace Corps. It was explained to me that AmeriCorps was very similar to the Peace Corps, only located in the United States – it was the perfect fit for my new double major! I spent 10 months after graduation traveling around the West Coast working for various non-profits – working in a Boys & Girls Club in Sacramento, teaching ESL in Tucson, planting trees in Salt Lake City, clearing brush on Catalina Island and much more. It was the experience of a life time; there was no better way to take all that I had learned during my time a UMW and put it to use for the benefit of others.

Over the years I have held a variety of jobs, some directly related to my studies at UMW and others taken out of necessity, but in everything I have done I have drawn on the knowledge gained through the American Studies program. Currently I am the Marketing Director at Sportrock Climbing Centers, while working on my Masters in Counseling – two jobs in which success is based on how well you understand people. I credit the appreciation and knowledge I have of the complexity of human interaction with the education I received as part of the American Studies program at the University of Mary Washington.