Alumni Story: Jessica King

Encountering Self-Discovery: Jessica King

“PULSE showed me that no matter your experience, you can engage in issues that matter to you, get your hands dirty, and make a difference.” 

By the time Jessica King finished PULSE in 1997, she had discovered a whole world of vocational pursuits.

As someone who chose to get a liberal arts degree at Eastern Mennonite University, it seemed like a good fit for her to fulfill multiple roles in her PULSE placement at the Thomas Merton Center, a community center focused on peace and social justice issues.

“It was a jack-of-all-trades sort of thing–community organizing, office management, outreach, relational work, networking, board engagement,” said Jessica. This was in addition to her main duties editing their newsletter and teaching English to refugees.

Volunteering at the center opened Jessica’s eyes to nonprofits and community development and she’s worked for these kinds of organizations ever since.

“During PULSE, I learned that I had extremely meaningful vocational opportunities that I never knew existed before,” said Jessica. “PULSE opened up external possibilities for me, but more importantly, it helped open up an internal awareness and confidence that I’ve used to creatively engage life in urban contexts ever since.”

After moving away, she returned to Pittsburgh as the executive director of PULSE for four years. Then, she became the founding executive director of the Union Project, a community and arts center.

Jessica now lives in Lancaster with her family where she balances her family, graduate school and  a part-time job as the executive director of ASSETS Lancaster, a micro-enterprise development organization, with her hobbies, graduate school and her family.

“PULSE showed me that no matter your experience, you can engage in issues that matter to you,” said Jessica. “You can get your hands dirty and make a difference, even if only in your own growth and perspective.”

Read more stories about PULSE Alumni. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.