Name: Jennifer Massicci
Hometown: Rowlett, Texas
BS: How did you get to your position at the University of Dallas?
JM: I actually was a student worker in the Rome office as an undergrad for four years. When I graduated, I got hired at the School of Ministry for a year, I was the special programs assistant there, and then Becky called me and asked me if I wanted to come back to the Rome office. So I started off as the coordinator, and now am the assistant director. So that was 2007, and now it’s 2017, so it’s been a while!
BS: What are some of the ways UD has changed since 2007?
JM: The buildings, obviously, have changed. Most of the faculty are still here, Dr. Jodziewicz is still here. Dr. Jaws, Santa-Jaws. My daughter and I still see him every year at the Santa Social. She gets to see my thesis advisor as Santa Clause. She always tells him he’s not the real Santa Clause … Dr. Hanssen, with [whom] I took almost every class with [is here] as well, and we see her biking around the neighborhood. She’s gone by the house on snow days, when we were outside playing in the snow. I see some of the faculty still.
The student body has changed the most. You don’t have your philosophy majors smoking their pipes outside the Cap Bar anymore. So I think kids are more modern than they were when I was a student. I feel like all we did when I was a student was sit around and read our books outside the Cap Bar. I see less (sic) students in groups sitting around and studying. I don’t know if that’s because they’re more stressed about their studies, or just not on campus. There’s definitely a change in dynamic …
Facebook didn’t exist. Facebook existed when I got back from Rome. Conversations are more difficult to have … because [people are] behind this mask. I can present myself online in a certain way, which is different from the way I can present myself in person. Communication skills, I think, have lessened. Be open to being scared when talking to someone. That’s the only way you’re going to learn how to have a conversation … If you’re afraid of saying something wrong, you’re going to tend to not engage with people, whether that’s in the classroom or wherever. Don’t be afraid.
BS: What topic did you choose for your senior history thesis?
JM: Independent internationalism under George Washington — essentially, his foreign policy, or [his lack of] foreign policy. I took American Diplomacy I and II with Dr. Jodziewicz, and it was something that was really interesting, so I delved into it further … [Did] early America have a foreign policy, and what is that foreign policy?
BS: How do you maintain your intellectual life post-grad?
JM: I do work here, so access to the library is nice. A couple of semesters ago, I followed along with Dr. Cowan’s Russian Novel course and his European Novel course. I had a student worker who was taking those courses, so we read the works together and discussed them when she was working. I felt like I was able to be back in the classroom and have those conversations. But mostly, it’s running into someone who is carrying a book, and you say, oh, hey, you’re reading such and such, insert Core novel here. I remember that, what do you think about it? And that strikes up a conversation. No matter how many years you’ve been out of the university, the Core sticks with you. You’re going to remember it when you’re 35, when you’re 45, if you go to grad school, you’re going to recall what Dr. Jaws said in his American Civilization II class, or what Dr. Roper said during Lit Trad III in Rome. It sticks with you for the rest of your life. I know I’m not that old yet, but I’m getting there.
BS: How does your UD education affect you as a parent?
JM: [My daughter] is currently at Great Hearts Irving, so that was a big thing. Having a liberal arts education is important, and I didn’t realize that before I came to UD. I went to public school, I had great teachers, but UD was such a difference. I feel like it’s really important to foster that in my daughter, so she takes on the love of learning at a young age … That way, we’re not going to have problems with school. We read a lot. We go to the South Irving library every weekend. If you haven’t been yet, you must go. It’s amazing. They have all kinds of cultural events and themed events. Her history course at Great Hearts, they went through Ancient Roman and Greek civilization, and that’s what we do in Rome in West Civ I with Dr. Hatlie. [It is great] to have her learning that and [be able to] discuss it with her and see how excited she is, because I already have the background, so we can take it further than what she learns in her class. We checked out a baby Herodotus at the library, it was a dumbed-down Herodotus for primary students, in the children’s section of the library. So [I love] to read that to her, and then go pull out the real Herodotus, and read part of it, and for her to go, it’s the same thing, and for me to go, yes, exactly! How is it different? That’s really neat. Go Great Hearts! It’s a mini-UD.
BS: Where can you usually be found on a Sunday afternoon?
JM: If we are finished with church, we are probably at the movies, we like to go to the movies all the time. The movie theater that’s off of 114, Tinseltown, they do these things called Fathom events. It’s old films that they bring back and show on the big screen but with an introduction with someone like Robert Osborne, or Ben Mankiewicz, to say a little about the film because it’s it’s 50th anniversary or 30th anniversary. Labyrinth, with Jennifer Connelly. They showed that there and I showed that to my daughter, she’s a big Labyrinth fan. And Singing in the Rain, we did that last week. It’s Sunday and normally at 2 p.m. when they have the films. We do a lot of reading, and we sketch and we draw. Lots of activities that don’t involve social media. Going to the movies is different, because you go to the movies and you’re around other people who love the film, and you get to discuss it with them before the movie starts, which happens a lot when you go to the Fathom event showings.