Jennifer Battisti didn't start at Brockport. She began her academic career at a college in Pennsylvania where the student body felt cold and remote. While there, she became quiet and reserved, never really finding her place. She made a bold move to transfer closer to home, and Brockport was the right decision for her. Finding fellow students who were warm and engaged, she quickly found her niche. "It is amazing how a change of environment can cause a student to come out of their shell and find a new purpose," Jennifer explained. Finishing her bachelor's degree in kinesiology magna cum laude, she decided to stay at Brockport and pursue her Master of Public Administration with a health care emphasis.
A little nervous as she entered the Department of Public Administration as a new student, she was pleasantly surprised by the small class sizes and the relationships she quickly made with fellow students. Graduate school taught her to think critically and openly, going far beyond a traditional lecture hall. "Everyone was valued for the experience they brought to the department, and I often found myself learning from my peers and modeling their work ethic," she affirmed. Learning leadership skills, motivational techniques, and how to see the bigger picture are all skills she will effectively transfer to her working career.
Jennifer formed a special bond with Dr. Faith Prather, an associate professor of public administration who, Jennifer said, "embodies eloquence and continually brings out the best in her students." Dr. Prather forces her students out of their comfort zone and challenges them to think outside the box. Jennifer stated, “I have learned to be a leader from someone who exudes leadership.” Discussion-based classes where ideas are shared make the takeaway from each class memorable.
Being a graduate student at Brockport taught Jennifer to improve her critical thinking, analyze topics and be open to the opinions of others. "I appreciate a department that values the mode of personal communication as opposed to all online classes," she explained. "I believe the experiences between the two are drastically different and leave students with a completely different outlook on their graduate degree."
Working as a graduate assistant in the Office of Prevention and Outreach Services, Jennifer developed the Paws at Brockport Pet Assistant Therapy program in fall 2012. With the full support of her supervisor, she started an animal-based mental health program, bringing therapy animals to campus and helping students relieve the stress of exams. Humbled by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the program, Jennifer saw students light up when they entered the therapy room. A health promoter to the core, she acknowledged that "nothing made me happier than knowing I had a direct hand in contributing to a student's well-being."