Jessy has vivid memories of her mother rising before dawn to work 14-hour days at three jobs. Images of her mother returning at night, “her swollen knuckles scalded by burning-hot coffee and the ridges of her bony spine protruding from her damp shirt,” Jessy wrote, “motivated me to take charge of my education and I dream of leading my family out of poverty with my college diploma.” At Stuyvesant High School, perhaps the city system’s most competitive, “Even in a class full of Stuyvesant’s strongest English students,” one of her teachers wrote, “Jessy was a clear standout,” describing her as “a spectacular learner.” Jessy participates in the StuySquad Girls Hip Hop group as well as the school newspaper. She has written editorials on academic dishonesty and urging greater representation of minorities in mainstream media, and as a columnist has examined both Stuyvesant teachers’ grading practices and college hazing. Outside of school she learned several computer coding languages during a summer at Goldman
Sachs, and did research at the Icahn School of Medicine on the effects of long-term lead exposure on the victims of the Flint water crisis. She is also director of sponsorships at BlockchainsForSchools, a nonprofit aimed at connecting students with the blockchain industry. “It’s my duty to be the best version of myself,” Jessy told us, “for myself and for my mother.” Jessy, whose older sister graduated from Columbia this year, has enrolled across the street at Barnard, with her eyes set on medical school.