Jenna Ziegelmayer ’18

Jenna Ziegelmeyer graduated from URI in 2018 with three majors- Writing & Rhetoric, Communication Studies, and Spanish. In 2020, she earned her master’s in Bilingual & Multicultural Education through the Universidad de Alcalá in Spain. Learn how Honors guided Jenna towards the Fulbright program, which led her to “fall into teaching”.

Tell us about a favorite memory from your undergrad days. What do you think of the Honors Programs and your time at URI?

I miss being on campus! I loved walking across the quad, hanging out with friends, and getting Dunkin together at the MU in between classes. I look back really fondly on my time working at the Writing Center in Roosevelt Hall. I loved working there with friends, and getting to meet so many students from across all majors. It felt good to help other students with their work, and I got to learn about different fields and topics at the same time. The Honors Program had a huge impact on my time at URI. Some of my favorite classes were Honors Program courses–Creative Nonfiction, Color Science, and Rhetoric & Technology to name a few. I’m still in touch with friends and professors from those classes, who have kindly supported me post-grad with letters of recommendation. I miss spending time in Lippitt Hall; the classrooms were so spacious, and the big windows had the best sunset view of URI! Another one of the benefits of being in the Honors Program was having the ability to choose my classes early. As a commuter who worked off campus, this was essential. I wouldn’t have been able to balance 3 majors without it!

Tell us about the work you are doing today. What is your job, title and responsibility?

I work as the English Language Learner (ELL) Teacher for my hometown’s 5-school district. I work with students from kindergarten through grade 10, helping them at various stages of English language development. I also am the coordinator and administrator for state-level English testing.

What did the path to your current role look like? What are some interesting jobs or experiences you had along the way?

I usually say that I fell into teaching! I didn’t set out to be a teacher while studying at URI, but my writing major pushed me in that direction when I started to work as a tutor at the Writing Center. Then, with support from Kathleen Maher and professors within and outside of the Honors Program (and some luck!), I was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant that sent me to Madrid for 9 months. I loved living there so much that I stayed for another 2 years, working as an English language teaching assistant at a university and a secondary school. When I moved back to the US, a friend informed me that my local school district was looking for an ESL teacher. Again, with some luck, things fell into place for me to start teaching again! Aside from these jobs relevant to teaching, I worked at Ann + Hope Curtain and Bath Outlet for 7 years. Definitely one my more unique experiences, I mention this job because working in retail/customer service positions can be tough–especially during the pandemic. Working at Ann + Hope helped me through high school and college, and taught me skills that I’ll carry with me to any job–teaching included.

What would you like to highlight about your post-grad experience that you feel URI and the Honors Program uniquely prepared you for?

My Fulbright experience was one of the best years of my life, and led to two more years of living abroad and a start to my career in education. I truly would never have gotten that opportunity without the support I had from the Honors Program, the Office of National Fellowships & Academic Opportunities, the Writing Center, and numerous other URI departments and professors.

Have you maintained connections with URI through alumni networks? Are you involved in any mentorship or outreach programs through URI? If so, please describe. If you are open to students reaching out to you, please indicate your contact preferences in your response.

I keep in touch with my professors and fellow classmates mostly online through social media, LinkedIn, and email. I am not an active member of any alumni networks. I’m definitely open to students reaching out to me via email!

What advice do you have for current students?

Apply for those jobs, internships, programs, etc. that you think are out of reach! Be kinder to yourself–those opportunities are probably not as far out of reach as you think.