Impact Award, Fall 2019
Jessica Barnett isn’t your typical college student. She’s a first-generation, non-traditional transfer student who returned to school after raising four children. Her path hasn’t always been easy but she’s proud of her journey and accomplishments at Arizona State University.
When she started classes at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Barnett thought mathematics was the field for her. Though the moment she put down her calculator to focus more on coding, software engineering became her next choice. After transferring into ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, she found her true passion and graphic information technology stole her heart.
“Graphic information technology brings the best of engineering and creativity together and encourages using empathy when solving problems,” says Barnett, who is graduating with a master’s degree in an accelerated 4+1 program offered through The Polytechnic School. “I can make a difference with the things I’ve learned.”
In her time at ASU, Barnett has been a student employee, an undergraduate teaching assistant and president of AIGA Poly, a student chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. She also completed training to be a University Innovation Fellow.
Barnett’s hard work and determination have not gone unnoticed. She received a scholarship to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in 2016. She also won — and was the only nominee for — the Outstanding Web Design Student award at the Graphic Information Technology Awards ceremony in fall 2018. In spring 2019, she was named an Outstanding Graduate by the Fulton Schools.
“I look back over the last few years and see how far I’ve come and it amazes me,” says Barnett. “Having the hard work I put into my degree pay off like that wasn’t something that I expected and I am so grateful for those memories.”
Barnett credits her success to the supportive and encouraging lecturers in the graphic information technology program, including Christina Carrasquilla, Deborah Prewitt and Susan Squire. Squire had the most impact on Barnett as she convinced her to pursue graphic information technology.
“Susan Squire is the program chair and she is very focused on the ways that she can help students to succeed in school and in industry,” says Barnett. “She is constantly finding new tools and techniques for her classes and has answered a ridiculous number of questions for me personally.”
Barnett currently works for Barrett, the Honors College at ASU and wants to teach one day, aspiring to bring more women into engineering.
“Engineers are makers,” says Barnett. “We build things people use every day. In my field, I have the power to create things that make a person’s life easier. To build sites that everyone can use, and that they can enjoy using, is very rewarding.”