I had got in contact with Jenny Hall shortly before our interview. Completing her final semester last fall, she is now in the limbo between her last time at DelVal and graduation. She is a good friend from freshman year. As I anxiously anticipate graduation, I felt it was time to reflect.
I asked her where she wanted to do the interview. With her back in her home state, a face-to-face would be impossible. Her response was to do the interview inside a whale. Well shit, I’ve done weirder things in worse places.
Taking a conch to the rocky shores of Lake Archer, a blew a single deep note into the mollusk shell. In response, a tremendous whale, covered in slime and old PBR cans, rose from the depths. It opened its gaping maw, and I tentatively stepped inside. In the abyssal chasm of the whale’s mouth, our interview began.
Brandon Eckerd: Okay, so let’s start with where you are from, what your DelVal major was, and when was your last semester?
Jenny Hall: I’m from Baldwinsville, NY, which is a small suburb right outside of Syracuse. I majored in Zoo Science and my last semester was Fall 2016.
BE: Will you be attended the graduation ceremony this May then?
JH: I will as long as I have a job then that allows me to take the time off.
BE: Where would you like work, coming out of school?
JH: Ideally I’m looking for either a seasonal position or an entry level position in a zoo or aquarium.
BE: As a zoo science major myself, I have seen firsthand how competitive the field can be for college graduates. Do you think your experiences at DelVal have prepared you for this?
JH: It’s definitely prepared me in that I didn’t have any grand expectations for getting jobs right out of school, and it also prepared me by helping me get internships while in school as well as stressing me getting my own internships during the summer. Since the field is so experience-oriented, internships help a lot.
BE: What do you think is your greatest edge over your competition when looking for a job?
JH: Definitely the internships. Also taking classes that taught me more than just organismal biology. Our zoo science classes basically taught us the ins and outs of a zoo and I think having that information on top of biology helped a lot. If that makes sense.
BE: Is there a dream zoo or aquarium you would like to work at in the next 5 years?
JH: I really want to go out west for a couple years, either Washington or Oregon, so a zoo out there.
BE: Do you think you could settle down at one zoo eventually or would you like to keep gaining experience at different institutions?
JH: I’d definitely like to settle in the northeast one day. In the meantime, travel west, maybe south. But I want to move up from keeper to curator so settling would be good for when that happens.
BE: Let’s move on to your time at DelVal. Were you involved in any clubs or organizations on campus?
JH: Yes, I was involved in four clubs and three honor societies throughout my time at DelVal. Ok so club-wise I was in Student Programming Board, PAWZ, Student Government Board, and Presidential Fellows. Honor Societies were Alpha Lamba Delta, National Residence Hall Honorary, and Delta Tau Alpha.
BE: You were very involved! Did you ever struggle with managing your classwork alongside all your extracurricular activities?
JH: My junior year was a little rough because I had two jobs on top of that. But it was more my personal life that took a dive. I had a lot less time to socialize than I would have liked.
BE: Would you say you had a lot of friends in college or a smaller, closer group?
JH: At the start of my freshman year, I’d say I had a larger group of friends but as I progressed and people left or made new friends. and I made new friends, I definitely had a small group of really good friends.
BE: It is easier now to stay in touch with friends after graduation thanks to social media. Now that you are back home, are your reconnecting with friends who you couldn’t see as much at DelVal?
JH: I’m trying to but it’s not always easy, between working and interning. I do like using social media to check in on everyone and keep in touch with those who I can.
BE: Alright I have a few more questions about your time at DelVal. What was your favorite experience during your time at college?
JH: Oh gosh…I’d say either being an RA or being in Student Programming Board. Both were taxing and took a lot of effort but I met a lot of great people and had a lot of great experiences.
BE: Did you have a favorite class and when did you take it?
JH: Animal Training and Enrichment was by far my favorite because it was so hands on. I took it fall semester my junior year.
BE: If there is anything you think DelVal could improve for its students, what would it be?
JH: I know this is a cliche by now but the food needs to improve. My sophomore year it was actually really good but the focus seems to have shifted away from it. If we’re only given one option, it should be better.
BE: Who do you think influenced and/or inspired you the most during your time at DelVal?
JH: My advisor Andee and my boss Ken both inspired me a lot and they were my two biggest mentors.
BE: And lastly, was there ever any time where you doubted what you were doing or if you could succeed, and how did you get through that?
JH: I definitely doubted and still doubt that I can make it in the zoo field. I get through it by constantly improving and changing my plans and having back up plans.
BE: Never stop trying, right?
Gathering my things, I set out to leave the whale. Sadly, I ended up leaving through the whale’s exit and not its entrance.