Jessica Daffin-Thompson hopes to transform her love of telling stories and taking stands through the songs she writes into a career that “marries” journalism with political science, and she is in awe of how quickly that dream is taking shape at Macomb.
Since her first class in January, Daffin-Thompson has been mentored by Brooke Allen, political science professor, and Casandra Ulbrich, former vice president of College Advancement and Community Relations, who holds a Ph.D. in communication. Daffin-Thompson has also received a Democracy Fellowship from the Campus Vote Project and chatted one-on-on with Carl Bernstein when he and Bob Woodward (famous journalists who broke the Watergate scandal) spoke at the college in February. Last spring, she visit Washington, D.C. with her political science classmates, before beginning an internship in the Warren office of U.S. Congressman Andy Levin.
“As soon as I started taking classes at Macomb, my life changed immediately. All these doors started opening,” says Daffin-Thompson. “You don’t have to be a stellar student to start here, you just show your professors that you want (to learn), and they will help you get there.”
Following graduation from Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Daffin-Thompson was accepted at Michigan State University. Encouraged throughout childhood by her parents, she was intent on becoming the first in her family to graduate from college. But she got sidetracked from that goal by a disappointing freshman year and the promise of a music career.
“I was supposed to be the golden child. I was going to own Michigan State. I was going to make the dean’s list,” relates Daffin-Thompson. But large classes, rising tuition costs and a lack of connection with her professors made it easy to accept an offer from a record company. Unfortunately, she, like many young singers and songwriters, failed to read the fine print. The company, not Daffin-Thompson, owned the rights to the songs she wrote and performed. She returned home to Detroit, married a police officer turned accountant, had their son, Ira Thompson III, and moved to Clinton Township.
“I was trying to figure out what to do next when my husband said, ‘Hey, didn’t you want to be a lawyer once?’” relates Daffin-Thompson. “That’s when I decided to check out this place called Macomb.”
With lower tuition rates, “living lectures,” professors who “want to be here,” and “never-ending, exciting experiences,” Daffin-Thompson believes community colleges are “the best transition from high school.” And, before she transfers to the University of Michigan – Dearborn to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science and/or journalism, she is taking advantage of all that her community college has to offer, including the Macomb Multicultural International Initiatives events that she regularly attends.
“These forums are so valuable, especially when people are identifying so strongly with political parties right now,” offers Daffin-Thompson. “It’s better to flow off of love and kindness, and that’s what these programs, this college, is all about.”