An Interview with Jennifer

I met Jennifer in environmental concerns class during sophomore year at Columbia. She was outspoken, beautiful, confidence, and worldly. I respect her as a brilliant women and a friend. She is hard-working, always has a smile on her face, and taking on a new adventure. Jennifer is independent and sees the world as her own personal classroom, where she learns, grows, and discovers. This article takes you on a journey and gives you insight on how to create a life you are happy with.

Do you have a personal mantra?

My personal mantras change all the time, depending on what mood I am and they’re all very cliche. However, my favorite one is more of a proverb (but I think can still be considered a mantra):

“Only after the last tree has been cut down,

Only after the last river has been poisoned,

Only after the last fish has been caught

Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”

When you’re all caught up in little things that are bothering you, this really puts life into perspective.

What inspired your love for traveling?

When I was a sophomore in high school I had an economics teacher who changed my life. I don’t really remember how he did it, but it made me look up to him. He spoke highly of traveling, activism, yoga, seeing the world in a different light, etc. He made me see that there was a bigger world out there than just me. That summer, I went to WBEZ’s World Activism Fair and met a nonprofit called Matanya’s Hope. I would then take a trip to Kenya with the nonprofit and its founder, Michelle Stark. I’m not sure how I convinced my parents to fund my trip to a third-world country as a 16-year-old, but I was hooked on travel since then.283201_10150395048363452_3188600_n

What has traveling taught you?

Every time I travel, it teaches me what to appreciate all over again. Patience, culture, respect. Living in your own bubble for so long makes you forget other ways of living. Then you travel you see and experience how other people your age act in other parts of the world and suddenly, your life back home isn’t so normal. Traveling has taught me that I’ve been selfish and disrespectful when I thought I was being myself. In fact, I was being inconsiderate. Traveling has taught me peace.

Being in the journalist world, have you noticed a lot of sexism? How do you cope with it?

I’m not really in the journalist world so much now. The college paper, The Chronicle, was journalism without the journalistic atmosphere, so there wasn’t much sexism that I noticed. However, among my journalist friends (and as someone who attends a lot of networking events), I’ve noticed my male peers excelling way faster than my female peers who are just as smart. I’m not sure I do cope with it. I usually end up ranting about it to my other female friends for 30 minutes during dinner and unfortunately do nothing about it. A little bit of me thinks there will be another wave of feminism where people won’t be afraid to call themselves a feminist–that’s what keeps me going.

As a feminist, what advice do you have for women who want to pressure careers?

There are one million articles about this in the feminist community, but it’s seriously the best thing you can do for your career. LEARN TO NEGOTIATE!! I was so scared when I had to negotiate my first salary. I just wanted to take what was offered and run. I had no idea how much money it was. Thankfully my mentors and my boyfriend persuaded me that it’s something I need to do and I couldn’t have been happier I did so. If women want equal pay, this is the easiest way to fight for it. Ask for way double than what you think you’re worth because chances are, that’s how much your male peer is making (and how much you actually are worth).

How do you balance your relationship, friends, career, and time for yourself?

I love planning and I probably take a good, long look at my calendar for an hour every day. I plan out what I will do each day almost down to the minute and usually a week in advance. I think I’m still learning how to balance them all together, but I think being surrounded by a Google calendar and really nice people helps. If I don’t see my friends for a week or two, they’ll be worried, but we all are trying to balance so many things that they understand if we don’t see each other for some time.

Have you ever struggled with body image? If you still do, how do you deal with it?

Health is what I’m more concerned about. I’ve always have been “bigger boned” and loved food, but never do I remember hating my body. There were times where I gained weight and I hated it. Not because of how I looked, but because of how I felt. Walking, hiking, yoga and traveling became harder to do and that’s when I realized I need to either be more active.313917_10151235156873452_73075211_n

That being said, I do find myself obsessing over health and making sure I eat right and am active. My biggest fear is being in my 80’s and needing to be in a nursing home or a hospital bed (and hindering my ability to travel). My grandmother is my biggest hero in that aspect. She is almost 90 and as sharp as a nail! She makes all of her food from scratch, gardens and lives by herself. I feel like a lot of people get body image and healthy confused. You can want to be healthy and still love your body.

Do you have a favorite book that you think all women should read?

I’m not sure I have a specific one for women, but I do think everyone should read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I read it in high school and was severely creeped out. But then I read it again and really appreciated it. I’m not going to ruin the book, but it’s a fiction story about a totalitarian world that overthrew the U.S. government where feminism doesn’t exist. It’s pretty frightening, but I think it’s an important read–especially since the main character is a woman.

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