Fellow Story: Tess De Jong

One of my favorite parts has been networking with people I probably wouldn’t have met on my own. I’ve been handed networking opportunities and met some really cool people.” -Tess De Jong

Tess De Jong comes to Pittsburgh by way of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Tess received her degree in Geography with a minor in Economics from Calvin College. Prior to joining PULSE, she interned with Calvin College’s Service-Learning Center, *Culture is Not Optional as a Business Support Intern, and the Gilchrist Retreat Center. Additionally, Tess was a part of Ready for Life Horizons, an organization that builds relationships with people who have physical and developmental disabilities. In her free time, Tess enjoys cooking, playing sports, and completing do-it-yourself projects.  She is a part of the South Hilltop cohort, and is serving at Focus on Renewal.

Jack Hurley: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Tess De Jong: The most valuable part of the PULSE experience is having a supervisor at my placement who is invested in me and my experience. She has invited me to events outside of work, expanded my network, given me space to learn new skills and take on leadership opportunities that will benefit me in the future.

Jack: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Tess: I’m learning more about my own personality in contrast and comparison with my own housemates. I’m learning about unique experiences and strengths that I have.

Jack: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Tess: I try to spend quality time with people every single day. I got coffee with a friend last weekend, went to light-up night, and had Friendsgiving with the South Side and Jack Hurley which of course involved some intense party games.

Jack: Describe a typical day at your nonprofit partnership.

Tess: My day changes every day! For the most part, I go into work, take a while to get to my desk after stopping to chat with so many friendly faces, and check emails (I’m a food programs and outreach coordinator). Also, as a part of my position, I work at the food pantry and we serve roughly 100 families per month. A big part of my last month has been organizing a cooking class for teens called “Steel Chef.”

Jack: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Tess: I’m from Michigan and orientation in July was my first time in Pittsburgh… not only did the local Pittsburgh pride surprise me, but the hyper local neighborhood pride and identification surprised me, too. A lot of times, you can’t talk about Pittsburgh without specifying the neighborhood in Pittsburgh because there are many distinctions among the 90 neighborhoods.

Jack: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Tess: On the first crisp day of fall about a month into the program, I decided to take a walk and explore the city while wearing my fall vest for the first time of the season. I live in South Side and I spent all morning walking through Downtown and crossed the bridges into the North Side. I ended at the Andy Warhol Museum because it was free that day. It was nice to see angles from on foot that I’d never seen before, and it felt like I was just a fellow Pittsburgher.

Jack: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Tess: This isn’t necessarily a family recipe, but our house eats broccoli like nobody’s business. We’ve definitely cooled down a bit but we used to buy 6-10 heads of broccoli a week. Definitely a Kingsboro staple.

Jack: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Tess: One of my favorite parts has been networking with people I probably wouldn’t have met on my own. I’ve been handed networking opportunities and met some really cool people. I’ve never networked before really, and now I’ve been doing a bit of it. I realize it doesn’t have to be this intense thing – a small conversation can go a long way.

I also love the people and being able to share the highs and lows of this experience with other people.


Story by PULSE Fellow Jack Hurley.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation: