Profile with Jessica Hanzlik

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Jessica Hanzlik (Ohio & St. John’s 2008) teaches math, science and social studies to eighth graders at the UNO Soccer Academy campus of the UNO Charter School Network in Chicago. She is pursuing a master’s degree in Education. She graduated from Ohio State University with degrees in Physics and French, and holds master’s degrees in Particle Physics and Comparative Social Policy.

Rhodes Project: Where do you call home?

Jessica Hanzlik: I call Chicago home now. I’ve been here for three years and I can’t think of a place I’d be more likely to call home.

Rhodes Project: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Jessica Hanzlik: I wanted to be a teacher! My parents are both teachers and all of my grandparents are teachers. I thought teaching was what adults did.

Rhodes Project: What’s the best part of your job now?

Jessica Hanzlik: I teach eighth grade at an urban charter school in Chicago, and I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy teaching adolescents. I think what I really like is the chance to be a part of raising children. I teach them math, science, and social studies, but it’s also really important to make sure they understand what it means to be a good person.

Rhodes Project: What’s the most challenging part of your job now?

Jessica Hanzlik: Hillary Clinton said “it takes a village” and that’s exactly right. It takes parents, teachers, community members and other adults in children’s lives to raise a child. Nobody can do it alone – it’s a major undertaking.

Rhodes Project: What’s something interesting you’ve done in the last year?

Jessica Hanzlik: We just unionized the teachers at my charter school network. We’re spending the summer bargaining our first contract – again, a completely new experience for me.

Rhodes Project: If you had unlimited resources to address any one issue, global or local, what would it be and why?

Jessica Hanzlik: If it’s restricted to the United States, I would say some sort of combined effort between poverty and education. I think those two things are inextricably intertwined. So fixing poverty is going to involve some sort of job-creation program where we build jobs that are challenging but also pay living wage. And that goes hand in hand with making sure children are educated to a level where they can successfully perform in those jobs.

Rhodes Project: What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

Jessica Hanzlik: Two things: one would be to just do your very best at everything you do. And the other thing is to think bigger! Don’t limit yourself in terms of thinking about what size impact you can have or what amount of change you can bring to your community or to your world.

Rhodes Project: What do you do for fun?

Jessica Hanzlik: I really like reading young adult fiction. That’s my Saturday afternoon guilty pleasure.

Rhodes Project: What’s something you’re looking forward to right now?

Jessica Hanzlik: I’m looking forward to my summer holiday! As much as I love teaching, I’m really excited about a month where I can control my own time.

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