PATH Cohort of 2018-Graduating Class of 2020
February 3, 2021
Jessica Bravo got her acceptance letter to UCSD in the middle of preparing for a stage performance.
“I screamed,” she says, “cried a little.” She had already recovered her letters from other colleges and didn’t realize that she had been waiting on UCSD. “I think this is the school I wanted to go to just based on my reaction.”
Jessica Bravo is a recent Theatre graduate, with a focus on stage management. According to Bravo, theater students keep to themselves, huddled together in Revelle College located furthest away from the rest of the campus. The PATH Summer Academy helped her open up to people outside of theatre. “It opened me up to friends in History and Literature who I still talk to…If I didn’t have PATH I would not have these people; I would not have been able to make my circle—my support.”
There’s a focus on forging friendships and maintaining connections through PATH, a mentality that seems to happen naturally when you have a group of students all going through the transferring process together. This mode of operation is displayed clearly in Jessica, who is bubbly and bright upon first introductions — certainly a useful skill for her previous position as an Outreach Intern for PATH. For the rest of her time at UCSD, Bravo mostly spoke to high school students, championing community college and the Humanities to students who didn’t believe that college was an option for them, either due to financial insecurity or some perceived lack of intelligence.
Jessica got to see how much stigma students face when making decisions furthering their education and career: such as the stigma of seeing community college as “second rate”: or even pressure from the people who are meant to advocate for students the most.
During a visit to a school in Claremont, Bravo was confronted with a situation where a class clown type kid made a comment during her presentation and, in response, the teacher claimed that the student “wasn’t made for college.”
Bravo was shocked. Afterwards, she (very politely) shared her own experience with the class about being told she wasn’t made for college, and yet still attended UCSD.
“Everyone’s made for college, if they want to be in college,” Bravo emphasizes.
“Don’t let anyone say or imply you’re too stupid to go to college…This is how my journey went, you can take inspiration from that…giving them these resources at such a younger age than when I got them hopefully is helpful for them.”
Jessica has a penchant for putting a spotlight on others, giving them a platform to thrive when others might not. While this is obvious within her stage managing work–among other things, Bravo had the unique opportunity to stage manage a remote dance show–this is most notable in the campus theatre group Found Space, which Jessica founded in order to make up for a lack of diversity and new work within the theatre scene on campus.
Found Space allowed for more diversity within casting and also provided students a chance to showcase their own writing. The influence of Found Space continues to grow even after her graduation. “[They’re] using it now for Black voices on campus–which is amazing. [They’ve] incorporated the Black Resource Center now, I believe. So to see it grow to be available for other voices that we kinda didn’t reach before, it makes me feel better…it’s in good hands.”
Jessica’s advice for current or prospective PATH students:
“Push yourself past fear and anxiety.”
Written by Demree McGhee. Photos taken by Manuel Rotenberg.