Tessa earned her bachelors of science degree in political science at Berry College in Rome, Georgia. She is currently a first year graduate student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she studyies criminal justice with hopes of earning her doctorate in criminal justice. She serves on the Graduate Student Association board at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and also works at a federal halfway house. Upon graduation, she hopes to serve her community in law enforcement at a federal level and wants to teach at the college level after gaining first hand experience in the field. She loves eating pancakes, listening to books on tape, and spending time with her twenty-eight siblings.
- How did you find out about ISI? What drew you to get involved in ISI's programming?
I attended Berry College during my tenure as an undergraduate. The first political science class I ever took at Berry was taught by the esteemed Dr. Peter Lawler. I loved his class because of the way he taught it. He taught with morals and values that encompassed the ancients and political thought in a way that I had never heard before. He recommended ISI to me because of my desire to explore current events through an ethical and ancient perspective.
- If you had to choose one highlight of your undergraduate experience, what would it be?
The highlight of my undergraduate career was playing soccer with my little sister, Maggie, at a collegiate level. I believe that family is undervalued nowadays. I appreciate and value my family ties because they are the ones that have helped me create the solid foundation that on which I have built my personal and philosophical beliefs.
- What have you valued most about your ISI experience?
I value the conversations that I have been able to have with those attending ISI events. Each person, whether a professor or student, holds himself or herself to a higher, ethical standard that is not commonly abided by today. The conversations could vary from political thought to philosophy to daily events and yet no one wavers from the truth or the wisdom of those who have gone before them.
- How have you spent your summers while in college?
I played college soccer at Berry College, so I spent many of my summers preparing for the upcoming college soccer seasons and working part-time jobs. However, when I was not exercising on the field or working, you could find me reading books by C. S. Lewis or A. W. Tozer. I am drawn to these philosophers because of the way they describe Christ throughout their explanations of daily life.
- Whom do you admire most, and why?
At an early age, I was inspired by the sacrifice, perseverance, and courage of Ruby Bridges. Being escorted to school by federal agents, walking past throngs of jeering, hate-filled adults, and entering an empty, boycotted classroom, must have been frightening to Ruby Bridges. However, the grace she displayed while standing up for what was right is the main characteristic I envy the most. Today, we all see political individuals and citizens in our community take stances for their opinions but most of them do so in a hateful way. Or we see individuals sit back and not speak up. Regretfully, I have let issues pass by me in fear of saying or speaking up for what is right and noble. The fact that Ruby Bridges was able to make her mark with their head held high is remarkable to me and something I aspire to do more.
- What advice would you give to other students who want to preserve the principles of liberty?
Study or be mentored under a conservative professor or leader on your college campus. If there is not a conservative political thought or philosophy community around you, create one with fellow students. I am a firm believer in learning from those who have gone before you and surrounding yourself with like-minded people because it is then that you can trust your beliefs to be challenged in a healthy manner. Community is vital in order for us to be challenged, personally developed, and helping us change the community around us in a honorable manner. Which is why you should join ISI today!