Jessica Shiles MS '18

Jessica is from Arizona and received her bachelor’s degree in Genetics, Cell, & Developmental Biology from Arizona State University in 2013. As an undergraduate, Jessica served as the co-founder of a cancer non-profit organization, traveled abroad as an advocate for victims of sex-trafficking, volunteered in a clinic with adults with mental illness, and volunteered at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in the Pediatrics Genetics Unit. Jessica was also a research intern with the Mayo Clinic and ASU’s Population Genetics Department. Post-graduation, Jessica worked as a Lead Family Studies Assistant at Ambry Genetics. She continued to gain exposure in the field and spent a year interning in the Cancer Genetics Department at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She also became a Life Care Counselor at her local church. Jessica is currently actively involved in the Leukemia and Lymphoma society and raises funds through marathons for cancer research.

Can you describe your First Year Disability Service Learning rotation?

My disability service learning rotation was at the IDEAL School of Manhattan. The IDEAL School is an inclusion school that is dedicated to creating a diverse community that affirms and accepts the full identities of all people, while inspiring academic excellence, and creative leadership. One of my most memorable experiences was learning a student’s story through his artwork. His artwork illustrated a shark that had a “gimp” fin. The student told the story of how although the shark may be different, he has other strengths that make him unique. In fact, his differences end up saving the day. The story was inspiring and very mind opening. It allowed me to realize that everyone, regardless of their outward appearance, has a story, and it is up to you whether you take the time and listen.

Can you describe where you live?

Living in the Upper West Side of Manhattan is fabulous! I’m 25 minutes from campus by car (45 minutes by train). I live near Columbia University in a neighborhood with a young student demographic, so the energy in the area is always present. I am located right next to all the major trains and subways and within walking distance of local restaurants, cafés, grocery stores, and shopping centers. The location is the perfect balance of living in the city, but not in the heart of the chaos. I love it!

Where do you like to run in New York City?

My favorite places to run are all over the place! I have had such a blast just running through all the neighborhoods and just getting lost! There is no better way to learn the city than to explore! It is a perfect way to stumble upon neat little cafés or restaurants in the area! I live fairly close to Riverside Park, Morningside Park and a hop, skip, and a run from Central Park—which are always pleasant to run through. I also enjoy heading over to the Hudson River running path that travels the diameter of the island of Manhattan along the river! You can make it all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge if you are motivated!