Our Stories

Jessa FoxJessa Fox

Jessa Fox: Eat, learn and be friendly.

As a first-year student, you're going to have to adjust to new friends, new teachers and a new level of learning at Willamette. But if you think adjusting to Willamette will be a long, drawn-out process, you might want to talk to freshman Jessa Fox.

Within weeks of her arrival on campus, Fox took a quick count of her closest friends - and when she ran out of fingers, she invited 10 students to her parents' home in Portland, Ore., for an overnight stay. Her mom and dad cooked a hearty breakfast for the Willamette crowd, and one of her new friends from Oklahoma spent Thanksgiving weekend with the family. "I felt like it would be hard to make friends right away, but the whole community welcomes you in," says Fox. "My parents are so happy that I'm happy, that I'm making friends. This place just fits me. I love it here."

That sense of camaraderie extends to her classes, which are challenging and enjoyable at the same time. At first, Fox was a bit intimidated by her World Views seminar - but those feelings evaporated when her professor made it clear that he was part of the class, not above it. "We were trying to catch Froot Loops in our mouth before class," recalls Fox, "and (Professor) Jerry Gray came in and said, 'Toss one my way.' He caught it in his mouth, and then we got down to business. You can have fun while you're learning, and that's a major aspect of Willamette."

Fox also has found out that learning takes many different forms here. In addition to addressing local hunger issues with Marion Polk Food Share, Fox is practicing her dance steps in the Swing Club, exploring the art of firespinning in the Poi Club - and discovering what it's like to be surrounded by individuals who expect the best from themselves.

"I think the people here are very passionate - they all have something they really care about," says Fox, an aspiring journalist. "It could be anything, from music to the Olympics. This campus is full of people with passion for what they do."