The School Chooses the Student
At Guilford, Jess was an English major and a double minor in History and Political Science. He delivered the commencement speech to the Class of 1997, telling his classmates he did not choose Guilford — Guilford chose him.
Jess says he was “not the best student” in high school. But even in the midst of his father facing cancer surgery, it was the encouragement of Karen Ley from the Office of Admission that turned his academic career around.
“Karen insisted I keep trying. She told me even though my grades and SAT’s weren’t great, she had a feeling about me,” Jess says. “So I flew down to Guilford solo for a day of interviews. I walked onto campus and immediately thought, ‘This is it. This is the place I want to be.’”
“Guilford was the hardest school to which I applied, and it was the only one I got into. However, I got in conditionally. The summer before freshman year, I had to do a three-week program or be on academic probation for the first year of school. I did the program and changed my whole life. I was in the library studying every day. I was on the honor roll. I was on the Dean’s List. I received an academic scholarship, and, in a stunning turn of life events, my professors were asking me to tutor other students. I felt so incredibly indebted to the College for the risk it took on me that I worked for the Admission Office for all four years I was a student!”