For this installment of “Where are they now?”, we feature our fourth black belt from the Metamora Martial Arts program, Miss Jessica Duffy. In this “Where are they now?” article, Jes gives us an update on her life experiences post-martial arts.
When looking back at my experiences in the club and while training, it is not the intensity of the workout or physical injuries that I remember the most – although I will never forget my black eye.
One of the most valued experiences I took away was the sense of camaraderie that I felt with my fellow students. Although there were some times when we did not get along, we were a team in every sense of the word.
Whenever we were at a tournament we cheered the loudest and at that moment we were our competitor’s biggest fans. The time we spent on bus rides to tournaments and seminars helped to cement our bonds to each other and let us get to know each other as people as well as classmates. I still keep in contact with many of my former fellow students and still maintain those friendships that formed almost eight years ago.
College for me was a little different. I started out at ICC for two years and then transferred to Valparaiso University in Indiana. However, the actual student experience was a little different than the campus tour promised it would be, so I transferred back to Bradley University after one semester. While at Bradley, I joined Kappa Delta Sorority and Habitat for Humanity.
My sorority experience was amazing. I know there’s a saying that people do not want to have to pay for their friends and that sorority girls are just vapid narcissists, but it was not like that at all. My favorite part was the philanthropy work we did around Peoria, which included adopting a Girl Scout troop and helping them complete their badges.
In Habitat, we went on spring break trips to build houses in Albany, Ga., and the greater Miami area. Talking with the volunteers and future home owners really helped to open my eyes to the extreme conditions that they had seen, including a family that had not had a home of their own since Hurricane Katrina.
These experiences have stayed with me and have helped me to become more aware of similar situations here in Peoria and Normal.
In May 2010, I graduated from Bradley University with a bachelor of science degree in Marketing.
I would like to say that choosing and staying with my major was easy. However, I did fall into the statistic that says a college student will change his or her major three to four times during their college experience. If I could advise current high school juniors and seniors about anything college-related, it would be that you should choose a major in a subject you love, not one that you think will cookie-cutter you into the perfect job – unless you are going to be a doctor or an accountant…that’s different. I chose a major that I thought I had to do and if I could do it over again I would have chosen differently.
A major is something you identify yourself with your entire life, not just the four years where it seems to consume your
life. While I lived and breathed advertisements, focus groups and statistics research in college, I would have rather been thinking about events in history and art and the permanent marks they have left in the culture of mankind.
Also, for all those who complain about how they do not want the slacker in a group project to bring down their grade, the team aspect you learn does in fact come in handy later in life. That is probably the best thing I learned at college and I use it almost every day.
I did not get a “real” job right after college and I still do not have one. After working at a coffee café during the summer, I started work as a resident supervisor for a sorority at Illinois State University. This experience was very profound for me personally in that it showed me what I don’t want in life. It is very easy to think of the things we want in life but rarely do we realize what we don’t want in life until something opens our eyes. While the work was easy, I could not stay in a job where I was not able to be myself.
A few weeks ago I wrote an email to my boss, essentially telling her, “Thank you for the opportunity but I can’t do it.” Pressing the send button was one of the most liberating feelings of my life. I think that after college you have to do jobs you might not especially like, but not at the expense of sacrificing yourself.
I currently work at Eastland Mall for American Eagle Outfitters and ULTA Beauty, though I am still very active in my search for the elusive full-time job. I am a member of the alumnae association of Kappa Delta Sorority for the Bloomington/Normal area.
(Note from Adam: Jes told that since she wrote this article, she has found that full-time job as an assistant manager at American Eagle.)
I look forward to moving back to the Peoria area very soon and the new opportunities this might bring.
Ms. Duffy graduated MTHS in 2006 with her 1st-degree black belt. She also trained briefly in Shotokan karate at Valparaiso University in Indiana. Jessica brought a lot of fun and energy to our program, traveling with us to Japan in 2003. She was a fierce competitor during her high school career.