Student Spotlight–Jessica Kiffl DRC'21
After a decade of experience in the working world, Jessica Kiffl DRC’21, a mother, Mary I. Bunting program student, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ambassador, and human resources professional, made the decision to return to school to earn her bachelor’s degree. Enrolling in Douglass, a place whose mission inspired Kiffl from day one, was simply a natural fit.
“When I initially received my acceptance into Rutgers, I was invited to a Douglass open house,” Kiffl said. “It was there that I immediately connected with Douglass’ mission to empower women. I knew instantly that I wanted to belong to such a supportive environment. Throughout my journey and life changes along the way, the deans and students have been there for me. The College has given me such a feeling of camaraderie, that I can honestly say, I consider Douglass members to be my second family.”
From her time spent working in human resource offices, Kiffl’s choice to return to school was primarily based on her drive to help employees have an easier and more equitable experience navigating the often complex employment systems of many companies.
“I remember when I had previously worked in HR, that I used to get this feeling of fulfillment from making even the slightest difference in someone’s day,” she said. “For example, helping them to fill out a job application, filling out pre-employment paperwork, or informing them what benefit options were available to them. Assisting people gave me such a sense of purpose. In order to progress further in my field, I knew I needed to get this degree under my belt.”
While the decision was fueled by her passion, it was not without obstacles.
“My biggest challenge was actually making the choice to return to a classroom environment full-time after working and being out of school for over a decade,” said Kiffl. “To step outside of my comfort zone and achieve my goals was daunting at first and I felt extremely intimidated–especially being older and not ‘fitting’ in with the idea of a typical college student.”
However, since returning to school, Kiffl has found her home at Douglass. An advisory board member for the Mary I. Bunting program, the Douglass initiative that supports students over the age of 23, Kiffl has lent leadership skills and wisdom to her fellow students. She thrives as a peer mentor and a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Ambassador, both of which support her aspirations to serve others in her community.
“Each of these opportunities has been rewarding in their own respects and had I not become a member of Douglass, I would never have had these experiences,” said Kiffl.
Upon her graduation next year, Kiffl hopes to further her career in human resources by joining a company’s diversity and inclusion division.
“My main goal in pursuit of my degree is to impact lives by sharing my expertise and knowledge so that people may make informed decisions about the things that affect their lives and the livelihoods of their families–like health insurance and retirement policies.”
The coming year will not be without challenges for Kiffl. However, at the same time, remote learning has had some profound benefits for students like Kiffl who have obligations at home.
“While sometimes difficult, the situation has afforded me the ability to learn new skills and discover that if I really set my mind to something, I can accomplish it. For example, I completed 12 credits this summer with a 4.0 after having given birth to my first child just 9 days before the semester started,” she said. “The ability to work on my schoolwork remotely at home has allowed me to spend as much time as possible with my son, while still achieving my goals. This coming semester is my last semester, and I believe the remote set up will continue to afford me the kind of flexibility I am looking for.”
As she looks towards her final year at the College, Kiffl often reflects on her time at Douglass thus far.
“I believe that my mentors have blessed me with many opportunities that have made my college experience a time I will never forget,” she said. “Their devotion and commitment to the student body is what makes Douglass such a wonderful place. I will forever be grateful to call myself a Douglass student.”