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Alumnae Spotlight
Jesse Harrison-Noonan '09

Jesse and boys“Life is for service” could be Jesse Harrison-Noonan’s motto. She has been committed to service since she was a child. And it is Jesse’s commitment to service which drew her to Alverno College where she majored in Psychology with a support in Spanish and Global Studies.

Service to others also inspired her to spend several weeks in Tanzania through the eco-tourism and volunteering group Afrishare Solutions. With her mother, Jesse spent several weeks volunteering at Pasua Primary, an elementary school in the town of Moshi. At Pasua, Jesse taught English, classroom management and the importance of respecting the environment.

StudentsHowever, Jesse faced challenges. The teachers and students had a rudimentary grasp on the English language. And corporal punishment and route memorization is still used in the classroom. Even teaching about the use of a basic garbage bag proved to be daunting. Westerners see a garbage bag as something to put their refuse in and then throw out. The students thought a garbage bag was too beautiful to get rid of; they wanted to use it as storage.

Still, Jesse wasn’t deterred. She used her Alverno-honed problem solving skills, and discovered various ways to effectively teach the students. Jesse found Boys in a rowteaching through simple songs an effective teaching method because children respond so positively to music. As much as Jesse taught the children, she also learned from them. Many of her students face adult-sized challenges at home so school is a refuge. They truly wanted to learn. Of the students, Jesse enthusiastically claims, “They just melted your heart.”

Jesse is also enthusiastic about Alverno’s 125th anniversary. She marvels how Alverno was on the forefront of educating a diverse population of women. Jesse truly admires how Alverno has revolutionized the world of education while staying true to its commitment to service.

Article by Jennifer Kaufman '04