Jennifer Jiminian speaks about her experience with Freedom and Citizenship

May 11, 2018

TRANSCRIPT: Good evening students, family, friends,  and staff of DDC. My name is Jennifer Jiminian, and I will be graduating A. Philip Randolph next month, and I will be attending Gettysburg College. [Applause]. I want to thank each and every single person here because this program was a huge part of who I am today, this program gave me the opportunity to learn so much about myself, and push myself to new limits.

I joined the Freedom and Citizenship where I had no choice but to be open-minded, and to support my arguments through the seminars that we had. Although there were times when topics like citizenship, liberty, racism, inclusion, and human rights were brought up, although I felt uncomfortable in many situations, I had to remain open-minded, which was a great growth experience. This program fueled my curiosity I already had by opening the door to new insights academically as well as socially. It drilled me to take a deeper interest in truly learning and understanding a multitude of concepts. Learning how to not only listen, but to speak my mind made me generally excited about learning then, as well as in the future.

When I think back to my summer of 2017, all I think about is the memories I made with Freedom and Citizenship. From rushing to get to seminar to running around and playing  tag in the stacks to holding dorm floor meetings, and the basement lounge, the seminar was full of laughs as well as eyebags from reading philosophy and writing a paper every night. I remember being in the library and procrastinating but always having people in my group motivate me and put me back on track. Regardless of it all, it felt like a safe place and I remember leaving on Friday afternoons, dying to come back on Sunday nights. I came into this program not particularly being close to anyone, but came out with three of my closest friends, Mangbe, Menelek, and D'Asia [Applause]. I saw people around me personally grow, not only academically but be able to think critically and be challenged to question their beliefs. I have also seen people change their beliefs when being exposed to people with touching personal experiences. I've seen people go from being shy and never speaking, to standing proud and using their voice for what they believe in.


The bio on the website doesn't do this program enough justice. It's not just your typical summer camp and it's not just your typical high school class. It's a program that truly changes you to think politically, to get out of yourself and see the bigger picture. It allows you to make connections between the past and the present, and how it can affect the future.

What makes DDC so amazing isn't just the curriculum or the classes, it's the students, the professors, the TAs, the RAs, and the rest of the staff. Not only is it an eye-opener, but it's also the best support system I've ever been a part of.

Coming from public school all my life, you never get all the attention you need, neither do you get the support. In DDC, the staff made it a mission to let you know they were always there for you. Along my senior year, this program also allowed me to get a mentor that helped me through my whole college process, from writing the essay to figuring out how I was gonna pay for college. It allowed me to build a network that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

I was also part of a year long project, my gentrification group, (shoutout to Elise), I have never had my eyes open to this broad idea of gentrification and never realized there's so much more I never knew. Through all the research we did, it opened my eyes to think about the bigger picture, to think about certain policies put in place to target communities, and how nothing happens overnight but it's a strategic plan like many other issues.

This helped me be creative and a self-starter. This program gave me the chance to actually make a change hands-on. It's taught me that although there's a lot of corruption and wrong, that sometimes it may seem we can do nothing about, there is always something able to be done. Through all the research we've done, I realized we bring change when we use our voices and raise awareness. Through this project and program, I have gained the courage and learned how to reach out for the resources needed to get a step closer to bringing that change. So thank you for giving me so much more than ever expected and for becoming a second home. [Applause]