Jessica Russo

2016 MCN Campaigns | Undergraduate University: College of the Holy Cross | Place of Origin: Staten Island, New York City

Jessica at the United Nations

Jessica at the United Nations

"I am a junior at the College of the Holy Cross and pursuing a Political Science degree with a double concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies and Latino and Latin American Studies.

After graduating I plan to go to law school in order to receive my J.D. degree and my LLM. Ever since I was little, I was always passionate about advocating for those who didn’t believe they had a voice or were wrongly accused. This passion began to grow when I went to high school where I was part of the Mock Trial team, the Congressional Debate team, and a member of many community service organizations. Now, as a junior in college, I continue to fuel my desire of advocating for others through my position on the Judicial Council of the Student Government Association at Holy Cross and through Silence to Sound, a campaign designed to help those who have been sexually assaulted in college.

I always knew I wanted to make an impact on the world whether it was in my own community, on my school campus, or on a larger scale. When I was a freshman in college, I found out a friend of mine was sexually assaulted and that story has forever impacted my life. After listening to the story, I wanted to do something that would bring awareness about the issue of sexual assault on college campuses so that no one will ever have to experience what my friend and so many others had to endure. That was when I received an email regarding the Millennium Campus Network and its MCC16 conference in Washington, D.C. I saw that they were offering young individuals the opportunity to launch their own campaign, and I realized that would be a wonderful opportunity to make the idea of starting a project to help spread awareness of sexual assault on college campuses a reality. Since the inception of Silence to Sound in August of 2016, my executive team and I have created a website featuring school specific resources for sexual assault survivors in our database and have attended the Higher Education Institutions - Key Drivers of the Sustainable Development Goals event for the discussion of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda of 2030 at the United Nations Building in New York City this July. My team and I continue to promote the discussion of the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses and ensure gender equity.

To conclude, one characteristic that all young student leaders should have is perseverance. Whether you are advocating for a particular cause on behalf of others or you are starting your own organization to help make a positive impact in the world, there will be obstacles that you will face in trying to achieve your goal. It is what you do with those obstacles that will influence your success and measure of effectiveness. It is easy to simply give up when your ideas do not achieve the desired result. A student leader with perseverance does not see these obstacles as an unconquerable challenge but rather a crucial learning experience where he or she will try to find out what helps to competently promote their vision and what does not."

*The "quotes" above have been edited for concison and clarity.