Jessica Izutsu began her career path studying hospitality at Edmonds College. Jessica had a passion for traveling and loved helping people plan their vacations. While her ethos differed from the company she worked for, she enjoyed the stability and work-from-home flexibility this career offered.

This position was disrupted with the outbreak of COVID-19 at the start of 2020, which halted virtually all travel. Jessica took this as an opportunity to go back to school. She is currently in the first year of her transfer degree and plans on attending the University of Washington to study Restoration Ecology.

Jessica has always had a passion for animals and plants, but typically avoided any of the hard sciences if she could help it. When she stumbled across the Restoration Ecology program during a horticulture class, Restoration Ecology is the practice of renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the environment through human intervention and action. Careers for this discipline may include working with cities to restore and preserve natural spaces or becoming an employee of the National Parks Service.

Jessica would one day like to create her own sustainable farm on a populating salmon creek, where she would also host educational classes and boarding. Jessica wants to combine her passion for travel and dedication to environmental stewardship to pursue ecotourism—a service that will be educational and sustainable.

Jessica found out about MESA through a math class she took three quarters into her education. MESA gave Jessica the support and resources she needed to succeed in the hard science and math courses she had once avoided.

“The last time I was in school I was working and going to school full time so I had time for little else. Now since I am a full-time student, I am able to explore more extracurricular activities and be more involved on campus.”

In addition to educational workshops, the MESA program at Edmonds keeps students in the loop about upcoming opportunities and scholarships.

“MESA has great resources for scholarship opportunities. The weekly postings have been so helpful because I don’t have time to search for these opportunities and apply.”

The one-on-one relationship with program director Turi Christenson has been invaluable to Jessica. Not only does she provide great recommendations and feedback for applications, Turi’s responsiveness and effort to maintain a relationship with her students help Jessica and other students feel connected to MESA in this digital world.

While Jessica misses the connections she has been able to make with her peers in the past, she looks forward to connecting with students in the MESA community.

“Just do it. It’s worth it, no reason not to if you’re going for a four year degree, MESA directly helps you succeed.”