From the Desk of the Council: Jessica Sun

One of the core missions of the Honors Diversity Council is to serve as a voice for marginalized communities on campus and foster a sense of belonging. Their weekly blog posts discuss the experience of students with marginalized identities/and or how the University community can be a more inclusive environment for everyone. This week, Jessica Sun shares some snapshots of her life and reflects on how they have shaped her life and personality, and encourages readers to do the same.

Where you are in this moment has resulted from a cumulation of all your life experiences thus far. Isn’t that something?! 😀 These experiences are unique and special to each individual, shaping one’s personality and identity. Sometimes, I feel we can all get lost amid the hustling and bustling in the world around us – especially as university students (at the best university ever). I tend to forget that, at the end of the day, I am just human – along with my friends, family, and loved ones. I want to take a moment to reflect on some of the critical experiences that have shaped how I choose to live my everyday life. When you are finished reading, I hope you feel inspired to do the same!

One-third of my life, so far, has been spent on a small island off the East coast of China. I lived with my grandparents, who worked hard to maintain a small convenience store to provide for my family and I. Vividly, I remember riding on my grandfather’s shoulders to go to preschool every morning – even as a chubby five-year-old… In the afternoons, I would have a mung bean popsicle while chatting with the neighbors and people in the village. I enjoyed the tight-knit community and getting to sit by the beach every night with my grandparents. One conversation that I remember to this day went something like this:

YuanYuan, do you miss mama and baba?” – Grandfather

“Yes, when can I see them?” – Me

“When the time is right, you get to live in a place with new opportunities – with mama and baba!” – Grandfather

[He was right; I cannot wait to visit him and tell him all about what new opportunities I have been
able to be a part of! :’) ]

My return to America was difficult as mandarin was my first language. Throughout time, I learned that SW Iowa is not the most diverse place to grow up in. Because of this, I experienced many racial and identity struggles throughout my childhood and high school. I never felt like I was able to fit in and questioned my worth constantly. With the support of my family and friends, finding my passions, and embracing my culture – I finally felt like I could indeed be myself all the time towards the end of high school.

Going back in time, I began to play the piano, guitar, and violin around the 2nd-4th grade. My teachers allowed me to perform at nursing homes once a month. When I would play for the residents, I always admired the people who took care of them. When I learned more about nurses and physicians through conversations with residents and patients, my love for medicine sparked and grew. I further explored my interests in academia and health through Mathcounts, Science Bowl, HOSA, and math modeling competitions!

If you know me personally, you know that I am a huge tennis gal. Since elementary school, I have enjoyed the sport, my coaches, and the community. My coaches were my teachers in 3rd grade, 8th grade, and high school – they have been there for me since the beginning. Having that support system and therapeutic outlet was essential for my growth as an athlete and a person in general. I am forever grateful for the opportunities I received to play as part of my team in high school and share the lessons I have learned with my students. Coaching tennis to littles makes my heart so warm and reminds me of the importance of giving back with my knowledge of the game and life lessons that were important reasons for my personal growth at such a young age.

Life changed a great deal when I came to the University of Iowa. Coming from a predominately white small town to a more diverse university (although still considered a predominately white institution) allowed me to branch out, take on more opportunities, and create more memorable experiences. After time, I have found a community of people who align with my personal, academic, cultural, and career goals while living in the moment!

Some of my favorite ways to live in the moment currently include grabbing boba downtown, listening to music and enjoying the sunset, or going on hot-girl walks with my friends:)

After writing this post, I am reminded of my gratitude towards all my life experiences, good and bad, as they have gotten me to the present. I now encourage you to take a moment and reflect on your own experiences, and I wish you luck wherever you may be on your life’s journey.

Author Bio:

Hey everyone! My name is Jessica Sun, and I am a first-year student double majoring in Human Physiology (BS) and Ethics and Public Policy (BA) on the pre-medicine track. I am involved with MAPS, UI pickleball club, HHP club, volunteering at Mobile Clinic and UIHC (MICU), STAR, other clubs! Outside of school, I love playing tennis, baking, photography, working out, and going out to eat with friends!


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