Massachusetts native Jessica Darfoor came to Northeastern University with a love of literature and an interest in health sciences. Through her NU experience, Jessica was able to pursue both of those interests and more. Jessica graduated in May 2018 with a B.A. in English and minors in Health Science and Political Science.
Here is Jessica’s Northeastern path…
Jessica knew that she wanted literature to be part of her college experience. During her freshman year, she sought out literature courses to balance her health sciences course load. Noting this, Jessica’s academic advisor inquired whether or not she wanted to declare an English minor. It was then that Jessica realized she did not want English to be her minor—she wanted it to be her major. Health Sciences became her minor, and she would later pick up a Political Science minor, due to her emerging interests in public health and health policy.
“I’m interested in learning more about the human condition, learning more about the way people really tick in order to help them. I think that through literature and reading and writing to the degree that we do within the major, you really get a good understanding of that.”
Jessica bookended her English studies at NU with classes taught by Professor Patrick Mullen. Through her introduction to and practice of close reading, Jessica deepened her appreciation of the writer’s craft and its impact. Small ENGL class sizes gave her the opportunity to make a strong impression, as well.
“It was really nice to have a professor who remembered me from freshman year. He even pointed out that my Capstone project contained some of the things I had been thinking about in that Introduction to Literature class. It was really cool to see it all come full circle.”
In the summer following her second year, Jessica joined Professors Kathleen Coyne Kelly and Cecelia Musselman for a Dialogue of Civilizations in Cornwall and England. She studied Arthurian literature and Advanced Writing while also traveling around Europe/England.
“For our Arthurian literature class, we wrote one of our essays on the side of a cliff in the South of England, which was a really cool experience. For Advanced Writing, we took influences from London and incorporated them into our final project.”
Jessica’s Capstone Project, “Writing an X-Ray,” examined the impact of English and literature classes on students in the medical field. Throughout the process, Jessica connected with several faculty members for guidance, including Associate Professor of English, Sari Altschuler and Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Moya Bailey.
“Professor Altschuler was a co-mentor during my capstone project. Because her specialty is looking at healthcare and narrative medicine, I learned a lot from her about what work is being done in the narrative medicine field. She directed me to a lot of really wonderful resources that I ended up using in my capstone project.”
“Professor Moya Bailey and I talked a lot about how race can also influence healthcare. And through that, I was able to incorporate literature that focused on race relations, and also on patients of different backgrounds and ethnicities when looking at my narrative medicine project.”
Jessica’s interest in health and humanities coincided with a new development. In Fall 2018, NU offered a new minor: health, humanities, and society minor. This interdisciplinary minor is designed for students who would like to learn how to think capaciously and creatively about health using the rigorous, precise, and flexible skills trained by the social sciences and humanities.
Jessica volunteered for the NU chapter of Best Buddies, a program that aids adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in the Boston area. Volunteers are matched up one-to-one with an adult that has IDD — a Best Buddy. They do group activities, like attending sports games, and other bonding activities with their Buddies.
“My Best Buddy and I visit on the weekends, we talk on the phone, we text. It’s a really rewarding experience to have someone that counts on you as a friend.”
Jessica also worked as a peer mentor for the Department of English. Peer mentors are partnered with students in the Introduction to English Studies class for new majors. Mentors meet with students, once a week in class, as well as outside of class.
“It’s really just a great mentorship program for first-year students who want to have some advice from someone who’s been through all of the English classes, who knows professors, who knows what classes might pique their interest.”
Jessica is currently applying to graduate programs that combine a master’s of Public Health with a law degree.
“I’m interested in Public Health and Health Policy because it will affect all of us in the future if it’s not already affecting us right now. We’ve all been a patient, we will be a patient, we know someone who will be a patient. It’s really important that we invest in its future and the policies surrounding public health.”
“Having a diversity of experiences [at Northeastern] stands out to me because when you’re applying to colleges, I feel as though most people don’t really know what they want to do yet. Being able to engage in a variety of classes, a variety of activities, is something that I think everyone should be looking for in their college experience. You’ll know what you like, what you don’t like, and you’ll use that to help mold your future.”
Northeastern Department of English