As a child, Jessica Hicks felt the harsh glare of the news media, and she was scared.
While family members struggled with substance abuse, some of her private pain was dragged into public view.
In time, Jessica was moved to the care of her grandparents in Southbury, and in the safety of her new community her perspective changed.
“I realized at that point that writing was something I wanted to do,” she said. “At first I thought that journalists were out to expose me and intrude on us. But I came to realize the important role they play in trying to bring to light issues that need to be talked about.”
Now a journalism and communications major at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, Jessica has embraced the small, close-knit, student body and faculty who have nurtured her passion for “getting to the core of things” through reporting.
“I grew up loving English and creative writing,” she said, and through investigative reporting and writing opinion pieces for Lehigh’s student-run newspaper, The Brown and White, she’s finding her passion for “going behind the scenes and getting to the truth.”
“Now I know how to go out there and interview people and it’s helped me think in different ways,” she says. She’s written articles on alumni romance, the intersection between data and the media, and her personal journey after a childhood interrupted by family hardship.
In light of her family struggles, just getting to college was a challenge, and in her scholarship application to the Connecticut Community Foundation, she wrote, “In my eyes, receiving a college degree would not only be my way out, but also my way up.”
The last two years, Jessica has earned scholarships from the Foundation through the Southbury Historical Society Scholarship Fund—awarded annually to a student graduating from Pomperaug High School in Southbury—and the Elizabeth H. Andersen and Nina E. Andersen Scholarship Fund.
When they established their fund in 1992, sisters Elizabeth and Nina Andersen of Southbury expressed their desire to provide as many students as possible with scholarship aid so they could attend the college of their choice.