Student leader hopes to give opportunities for success

Minxi Yao

It was the darkest time in her life. A teenage girl was lost in her freshman year and even considering dropping out. That was the beginning of Jennifer Lieurance’s college life.

Lieurance is a senior communication studies major, with a minor in poverty studies. She is now a national scholarship recipient, a peer educator for First Year Experience and the president of We Are F1rst. She is also a Bonner Scholar, which involves three-year commitment to provide 1,000 hours of community service.

According to the The National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition website, the Jordan Smith Undergraduate Student Fellowship provides five undergraduates the opportunity to attend the annual conference.

“I am one of five, said Lieurance. “I am the third Washburn student who got it.”

Back to her first year in college. At that time, she felt lost and considered dropping out. The faculty, Peer Educators and her friends helped her out. They pushed her to stick to one more semester and encouraged her to keep working hard. Then she moved to campus, got involved, and hasn’t left.

“If it was not for these people, I would not be where I am now,” said Lieurance. “I have just been encouraged and inspired by faculty and staff on this campus that I have continued to want to do the same for my current and future students.”

“As a first-generation college student, she has continued to seek out ways to serve this under-served population of students,” said James Barraclough, director of undergraduate initiatives. “On her own initiative, she created a new student organization to provide a community of support for all first-year, first-generation college students – We Are F1rst. For her Bonner site with the LinC program, she has worked with my office to assist in the launching of the inaugural Ichabod Success Institute during the summer of 2016. This year, she is serving in a leadership role for FYE as a Senior Peer Educator, where she helps train and support our group of 70 total peer educators.”

Lieurance will be graduating this May and plans to attend graduate school for higher education in student affairs. She has applied to schools all across the country, from San Diego State and California State University, Fullerton to the University of South Carolina.

“I will probably end up with the University of South Carolina,” Lieurance said, “because it is the home of many student affairs programs that are now national or international, such as First Year Experience. I also loved the campus, faculty and the opportunities that USC comes with.”

March 12, Lieurance announced on her Facebook page that she is choosing to attend the University of South Carolina for her masters of education in the Higher Education Student Affairs program. Additionally, she accepted the Social Justice Graduate Assistantship in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at USC.

From being involved in the Bonner program to First Year Experience, Lieurance has loved being able to inspire and impact students. She wants to be the person who can be a support system for students in the future, like faculty and staff have done for her on campus.

“I want to be the vice president of student affairs one day,” said Lieurance. “I feel like college has completely changed me. It allows me to do whole bunches of different opportunities I never thought I would have. And I want every student [to have] that chance. I want them to be able to succeed.”

Since Lieurance stays busy working multiple jobs on campus, she doesn’t have a lot time for hobbies. But she loves reading, watching TV, and hanging out with friends.

“I love reading about self-help, leadership and capabilities,” said Lieurance. “I also love different memoirs and different stories. I like learning about different things that’s going on in the world or has happened. One of my favorite books is about women leadership; it’s called ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg.”

Lieurance said she is a feminist. She enjoys reading and learning about different ways of leadership because she thinks leadership is something that everyone has.

“Being a feminist to me is caring about people being equal in all ways of life,” said Lieurance. “Honestly, to me, being a feminist is not just about speaking out about gender, but also speaking out about discrimination in the world. In my opinion, diversity is what makes the world what it is, but the inclusion is what we now need to work towards. Being a feminist has impacted my decisions and choices because it has allowed me to be a leader who listens and empowers others.”