University of Connecticut graduate Jessica Weaver is Corporate Governance Analyst at the State of Connecticut Treasurer’s Office. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Jessica about her experience and building her career in Connecticut.
NAN PRICE: Give us a little background. Why Connecticut?
JESSICA WEAVER: I am truly homegrown. I was born and raised in Newington, CT. My parents are from Bloomfield, CT. My family goes back to the Windsor, CT area. I always like to say I’m Connecticut’s 1st congressional district, born and raised. And so is my entire family.
I’ve lived here my whole life. I went to school at UConn at the Storrs campus and then got my master’s in public policy at the Hartford campus. I’m probably as Connecticut as it can get and I’m very proud of that. Connecticut is my home, my heart.
NAN: So, it was intentional for you to get your higher education here in the state.
JESSICA: Yes. People often look outside their home state when they apply to college. I purposely applied to UConn not only because of the offerings and the high rankings, but also because of how close it was to home. For me, it was the perfect choice. I was able to have it all.
NAN: Tell us about your experience transitioning from a student to entering the workforce.
JESSICA: Like most 18-year-olds, I didn’t necessarily know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew UConn had many offerings. So, I knew if I chose a path and changed my mind, at least I was at a school with many other opportunities for postgrad.
I majored in political science, earned a graduate certificate in leadership and public management, and went on to earn my master’s in public policy. From there, I became interested in local and state government. That led me to want to pursue a career in government in the state of Connecticut.
Along the way, I met some amazing people and had mentors who guided me through what it’s like to work in Connecticut government.
During my undergrad, UConn’s connection to both the state and federal government was helpful in terms of internships and different courses and adjunct professors who have experience working in government. That was where I blossomed into my career.
NAN: How did you use those internships to up level to where you are now?
JESSICA: It started in my undergrad days with an internship offered by UConn. A delegation of about 10 of us worked full-time in Connecticut congressional offices on Capitol Hill, where I interned at Congressman John Larson’s office. From there, I interned at the Connecticut Treasurer’s Office, which led me to another internship at the Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors working around the legislature.
I met some of our state legislators, who encouraged me to look into doing more political advocacy. That led me to community organizing and political advocacy at both the YWCA Hartford Region and the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps. Then, when I was 21, I ran for the Board of Education in my hometown of Newington.
For me, it was all about ensuring that I was not only developing my career in advocacy, but also giving back to my community, because that’s where my heart is.
Eventually, my connections from my former internships led me back to the Connecticut Treasurer’s office, not as an intern, but as a full-time employee.
NAN: What change do you hope to make here in Connecticut?
JESSICA: Everyone always says, “Leave it better than how you found it.” I often talk about the importance of public education and why I strongly believe in making sure young people advocate for their communities. It’s because it goes beyond leaving Connecticut better than how I found it—I want to leave a legacy for not only my parents who will retire here, but for future generations.
It starts when you have the power to speak about it. I want to continue to make things better where I can. I don’t necessarily expect to move a whole mountain; it’s more about making changes in the everyday lives in my community.
If I can say I helped leave this community about 10% better, however you want to measure that, to me, that’s a win. It’s something previous generations have done before. And that’s what will make Connecticut better, is those who decide they want to make it better. Without anyone saying, “I want to make change” or “I want to make progress,” nothing really gets done. Hopefully I can provide my ounce of help.