This past February, Scripps College welcomed Jenn Wells as the new assistant dean and director of Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment (SCORE). As part of our ongoing Spotlight on Staff series, the Office of Marketing and Communications caught up with Wells in mid-February, during her first week at Scripps,to learn more about her professional background and her aspirations for SCORE.
Scripps College: Can you tell us about the professional path that led you to working in Student Affairs?
Jenn Wells: As an educator, my passion lies in facilitating learning environments where students can be their full selves to attain the best education possible. This journey started for me at UCLA, where I minored in education studies while serving in student leadership roles as a resident assistant and orientation counselor. I fell in love with student affairs and its unique role in the college experience. From there, I immersed myself in a master’s degree and training program at NYU to better understand the social, cultural, and economic barriers for marginalized students in their paths to graduation. I developed a strong dedication to creating equitable learning environments that support the less privileged and most vulnerable. This ultimately led me to roles in leadership development and social justice education at two women’s colleges, Mills College in Oakland, California, and Barnard College in New York, where I felt a unique calling.
SC: Why did you decide to come to Scripps?
JW: If someone told me, while I was an undergraduate at a large public institution, that I would one day work at three small, liberal arts women’s institutions, I would not have believed them. But I have found that women’s institutions have a rare commitment to creating a more just, inclusive, and equitable world, and when a former colleague forwarded the Scripps position to me, I knew it was an opportunity to return to an environment that motivates me. In my role here, I’m called to ask: “How do we create space for each other that leads to better understanding, empathy, and compassion, and simultaneously continue to interrogate/deconstruct/reinvent outdated practices to make way for more innovative and inspiring ways based in justice and equity?” I work alongside students, faculty, and other administrators through trainings, workshops, policies, procedures, services, events, and programming that make Scripps a place where students can earn their degrees and contribute to forming a better society after graduation.
SC: What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
JW: I will feel the biggest sense of accomplishment if I’m able to play an integral role in equipping Scripps graduates with the tools, skill sets, and critical thinking necessary to be leaders in the ever-changing, complex world. This means creating opportunities for voice and action where the Scripps community can engage intentionally around empathetic, difficult dialogue and justice-grounded actions.
SC: Do you have any plans for SCORE at the moment?
JW: My plans are still forming as I learn about students’ experiences in, around, and outside of Scripps. It’s my hope that SCORE will continue to grow in the collective consciousness of the Scripps community as a place where all are welcome to engage in the issues that affect our day-to-day lives.
SC: Is there a fact about yourself that is surprising, or that people don’t know about, that you’d like to share?
I’m not quite sure if it’s surprising, but one fact I would like folks to know about me is that I am a firm believer in self-care and making sure that we, as a community, are taking time to nourish and reenergize ourselves so that we are able to meet the next task or challenge. If anyone wants to stop by SCORE and join me for a quick self-care break (coloring pages, breathing, or listening to music), please do!