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Jessica Obi: Ubun-TU

While studying in South Africa, Jessica Obi ’13 learned a word that describes her attitude about Transylvania: ubuntu. Someone who follows this ethic seeks to foster a sense of community, even with strangers.

Jessica Obi

As a graduate student in ethics, peace, and global affairs at American University in Washington, D.C., Jessica plans to continue to follow the ubuntu philosophy as she moves on to the larger world. She may join AmeriCorps, work for a non-governmental organization, or pursue a career in the Foreign Service. Her psychology major and English minor gave her a broad understanding of humanity and human interactions, which she will apply when she has the opportunity to serve a new community.

As an admissions ambassador at Transylvania, Jessica gave tours to prospective students and their families. She also hosted students overnight. Her job was to help strangers feel like they would be welcome as part of the Transylvania community.

“You get all different kinds of people from different backgrounds with different interests,” she said. “I value people and I value the stories that they have and the stories that I can share.” For her, giving a tour is like weaving a narrative that strengthens the bonds of a community. “You can’t just throw out statistics and numbers; it’s the stories that people remember.”

Jessica’s involvement extended beyond campus. She tutored refugee and ESL students at Lexington elementary schools. “I truly believe you can gain so much outside the classroom. It gives you the opportunity to meet really interesting people,” she said.

Looking back at herself as a first-year student, Jessica sees how much she’s learned from others. And she values the fact she doesn’t know everything.  “A lot of my time at Transylvania was spent gaining a lot of different perspectives.”

And the more perspectives you can embrace, the more empathy you can show your fellow travelers through this life. Ubuntu.

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