The intentional community aspect of PULSE has inspired me to always be mindful about the personalities and needs of people I’m living with. I don’t want those relationships to be shallow. I think it’s important to know the people you’re living with, care about them deeply, and be attentive to times they need some extra support.
Jenna Baron loves to explore new faces and places. Originally from Wilkes Barre, PA, Jenna moved to Pittsburgh to attend the University of Pittsburgh and study Anthropology with a minor in Global and African Studies. Jenna spent her college career being involved in things that she had passion for. She co-founded the Pittsburgh Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment Academy, and provided after-school tutoring to Somali Bantu refugee youth as part of the organization, Keep It Real. Just prior to taking the leap and becoming a PULSE Participant, Jenna spent time in Nairobi Kenya as a Fulbright Research Scholar. As a PULSE Participant, Jenna is currently placed with The United Way – Be There Campaign as the Be There Campaign Program Associate. Her role is to incorporate parent and community engagement in the campaign. Aside from the campaign Jenna also spends a lot of time at Arsenal Middle School in Lawrenceville to provide support to students who are at-risk of being chronically absent and provide incentives to improve student attendance. When Jenna isn’t out and about in the community or schools, you can usually find her exploring new places.
What do you love about Pittsburgh?
I love the size of Pittsburgh. I can get pretty much anywhere I need to go in a half hour or less. I think the size also has something to do with all of the collaboration among different non-profits in the city. At least in the work that I’ve done as a Pittsburgh resident, I’ve found that the organizations that exist here truly care about the communities they serve and are willing to collaborate.
What is the best part of the PULSE experience?
The best part of my PULSE experience has been living and becoming friends with the other fellows. It’s nice having a group of friends to see every day and have dinner with every week. It’s a really unique opportunity to live in a community of people who are having the same new and challenging experiences, particularly in our work placements. It’s comforting to know that there’s always someone who is ready to listen if you need support.
What is something about Pittsburgh that has surprised you?
I’ve been surprised by how many people who I work with are not originally from Pittsburgh. I got my bachelor’s from Pitt so I was always around a lot of students who came from out of town, but I didn’t expect to find the same thing as a young professional in the city. I’m finding that many, many graduates from Pitt and other universities in and near the city are sticking around to work.
What have you learned about yourself in PULSE so far?
Through my experience at my placement, I’ve realized that I’m most enthusiastic about work that directly involves students. I’ve known for some time now that my career would involve education and interaction with schools, but now I realize that the most meaningful programs to support elementary, middle, and high school students will require that we really know them and dedicate time to listen to their voices.
How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?
The intentional community aspect of PULSE has inspired me to always be mindful about the personalities and needs of people I’m living with. I may be living with new people in new places in years to come; I don’t want those relationships to be shallow. I think it’s important to know the people you’re living with, care about them deeply, and be attentive to times they need some extra support.
Story by PULSE Alumna Anna Wildermuth.