Take full advantage of the university experience
Dr. Jessica Tollette has always been interested in travel and intercultural communications, which brought her to Spain during a semester abroad in college.
It comes as no surprise that one of Jessica’s main hobbies is exploring new cultures and cuisines. Outside of the classroom, Jessica enjoys going to the gym or a dance class—she’s been learning salsa and bachata for the past couple of years, and is a regular at Zumba. She aims to fill her time with activities that bring her joy, and strives to maintain a balance between her professional and personal lives. As an introvert, she enjoys finding time in the day to meditate and practice yoga and gratitude journaling. Recently, she has dived into watercolor sketching, baking, and cooking. Although she’ll never stop exploring, she tries to return home to the US at least once a year to visit her friends and family.
After graduating from her bachelor’s degree, Jessica worked in New York as a management consultant. She credits this first experience of the working world with teaching her many life skills. She learned the importance of working in teams and the vision of starting a project and seeing it through to the end, alongside getting her first taste of data analysis and what it means to have a client.
Jessica looks back fondly on her time as a graduate student, recalling the different phases that ignited and continued her passion for education and her field of study. She began by investigating topics close to her—such as gender, higher education, race, and diversity—in a more rigorous and academic way. But she credits the second phase of the PhD, when she began teaching her own students, with helping her decide to become a professor.
In her role at IE University as Academic Director of the Bachelor in Behavior and Social Sciences, Jessica’s daily life revolves around everything from hiring faculty, collaborating with professors to create syllabi and course content, meeting with students, and working with the operations team to organize extracurricular programming for the students. She also teaches two courses “Qualitative Tools for Studying People” and “Becoming a Behavioral Scientist”. The first course deals with qualitative research methods like interviews, ethnography and focus groups—skills that are in high demand across a number of sectors. In the second course, the students are challenged to think more about human behavior and why we make the choices, we do. At the center of the course is the question “why don’t we always act in our best interest?,” while also developing life skills like goal setting, managing procrastination and finding your passions.
Jessica strongly believes that it is important for students to take full advantage of their university experience. She maintains that their education is not just about what they learn in the classroom and that they should experience the cities they live in and the other opportunities on campus. Jessica herself has become involved in the IE Center for Happiness, where she taught an advanced seminar about kindness, empathy and compassion. She found this experience highly enriching as it brought together different passions and interests to help educate and nurture empathetic, passionate leaders of the future.