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‘Dare to Dream,’ Student Speaker Tells Fellow Graduates

Anna Jump, wearing her red graduation cap and gown, stands with her husband outside of Talley Student Union.

When Anna Jump first moved to the United States from Guatemala, she didn’t think earning a bachelor’s degree was in the cards. Her English wasn’t strong, college courses were expensive and her confidence wavered. 

But she taught herself English by listening everywhere she went. She learned graphic design skills through online courses. When she and her family moved to North Carolina from Ohio, she enrolled in Wake Tech and earned an associate’s degree in advertising and graphic design.

She took a job with NC State’s Advancement Services, and every commencement season, she admired graduates wearing their red caps and gowns and glowing with pride. 

“I was talking with the associate vice chancellor for advancement services, saying, ‘I wish I could do that,’” Jump said. “He looked at me and said, ‘You can do it. What’s stopping you?’”

This time? Nothing. 

Jump earned a second associate’s degree at Wake Tech, receiving the credits needed to transfer to NC State and enroll in the leadership in the public sector undergraduate program. It took long nights, determination and plenty of coffee to reach her goal. As the 2022 student commencement speaker, she’ll encourage others to strive toward their goals, too. 

“I have seen so much potential and so many people who never get the opportunity to fulfill their dreams,” Jump said. “I know many people in the Hispanic community who never dare to dream. They’re so smart, but they don’t trust that they can do it. As the student speaker, I’m telling people, I did it, and I’m not better than you. Dare to dream. You can do it.”

Anna Jump, wearing a white dress and her red commencement attire, makes the wolf symbol with her hand outside of Talley Student Union.
Anna Jump stands outside Talley Student Union

Long Nights with Espresso and the ‘Hamilton’ Soundtrack

Between working full time and being a mom to two children, Jump had to find the momentum and mindset to complete her school work at night. 

“It’s hard to get it all done,” Jump said. “After I put the kids to bed, that was my time to start working on school work. It took lots of coffee. Guatemala is a big producer of coffee, and I love coffee. I need coffee in my life.”

When she was exhausted from working and parenting and studying, she would play a song from the soundtrack of “Hamilton: An American Musical.” The song, “My Shot,” is an anthem of embracing opportunity, as Alexander Hamilton’s character sings, “I am not throwin’ away my shot.” Instead of going to bed when fatigue hit, Jump would play the song on repeat and continue her schoolwork.

“Being here, it’s my shot, and I cannot let it go,” Jump said. “It’s my responsibility to keep this dream going.”

Jump was drawn to the leadership in the public sector degree because of its emphasis on communications and ethical problem-solving as well as its flexibility — the program is fully online. Throughout her classes, Jump found discussions on diversity and values-based leadership particularly meaningful.

“These classes aren’t just about your career or about academics but also about who you really are and what you care for,” Jump said. 

“Knowing what we’ve been through as a society with issues of diversity, it was so powerful to be in a class with students from different backgrounds,” she continued. “We need so much change, and it’s in all of us to make that change. That’s taught every day to NC State students. It’s so cool.”

Standing Tall

This accomplishment isn’t Jump’s alone, she says. It’s an accomplishment dedicated to her parents and grandparents, her husband and children, her mentors at the university and everyone who came before her. 

“I want to acknowledge that if I have seen further, it’s because I’ve been standing on the shoulders of giants,” Jump said, quoting Isaac Newton. “The path goes on. Graduates, we need to get our shoulders ready, because there are so many generations coming that will need shoulders to stand on.”

On commencement day, Jump’s husband and children will be in the audience at PNC Arena, and her family in Ohio and Guatemala will be watching the ceremony online. Her speech will be a tribute to those who helped her persist through difficult times. She wants to remind graduates that people are rooting for them. 

“Sometimes we don’t open our eyes to the blessings around us, and we get blinded by emotions,” Jump said. “There were times I felt deeply, deeply alone. But when I opened my eyes, I saw the people around me, and my mentors and friends put love and strength in my heart.”

The Wolfpack embodies opportunity, generosity and a place of belonging, Jump says. Her favorite place on campus is her office in the Park Alumni Center, where she now works as a university program specialist. Her husband, a research associate in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, is working toward his master’s degree. 

 NC State has given her an education, of course, but it’s also given her a place to grow into her career, her community and herself. 

“I have no words to thank NC State and their faculty and staff,” Jump said. “It transformed my life, coming to NC State.” 

This post was originally published in NC State News.