When political science major (with french and environmental studies minors), Jenna Mozingo left Maryland to attend college in North Carolina, she was disappointed to find that her chosen college was largely a “commuter” school. When she visited a friend at Southwestern, she found a vibrant campus community. That, along with her financial aid package, made the distance from her family worthwhile.

On campus, Jenna was involved with the French and political science honor societies, Students for Environmental Activism and Knowledge, Student Peace Alliance, Student Congress and the Progressive Student Alliance. And for hanging out with friends and discussing their lives, Jenna says Korouva Milkbar was the place. “It’s a little funky, but a staple of the ‘alt-western’ experience.” 

The highlight of Jenna’s Southwestern Experience was getting to know certain professors. “I’m sure I wouldn’t have received so much feedback on my schoolwork (and lifework!) from friends and teachers if I had been on a larger campus.”

At Southwestern, the biggest lesson Jenna learned was to think before you speak. “You never know how someone will hear your words, so it’s important to be genuine,” she says. She advises others, “Don’t act like a fool just because it’s the first time you’re away from home and you’re around lots of interesting people. You have four years to live with the reputation you make for yourself.”

Personally, Jenna says she lives her life with intent. “I always try to be conscious of what I’m doing, and how, why and what implications my actions have for others.” She says she feels well prepared for life after Southwestern, but perhaps not in the way that she expected to be. “In a lot of ways, my Southwestern Experience changed what I thought I wanted in my life.”

Since graduation, Jenna has traveled in Europe, where she worked on a vineyard in southern France and learned about straw-bale building and beekeeping in Denmark. Since her return to the U.S., she has built a greenhouse in Pennsylvania, a composting toilet in Tennessee and a geodesic dome in Oklahoma. She says, “It feels really great to help people make environmentally conscious changes to their daily lives.”

To those who ask Jenna why she isn’t going straight to graduate school, she explains, “My work comes straight out of what I learned at Southwestern about who I am and what kind of world I want to live in. 

Honestly, I think this is the most valuable thing for me to be doing right now—experimenting.”

Black, gold and green 

At Southwestern, students take the lead in environmental activism, with initiatives ranging from the installation of LED lighting in a campus theater to mapping the solar potential of the campus in the University’s advanced GIS laboratory to a year-round community garden with a greenhouse and on-site composting of campus food waste.