A Gates Millennium Scholar, and recipient of the Max M. Cuba Scholarship, Marshall L. Bowie Scholarship, James L. Maddox, Jr. Scholarship and Ronald E. McNair Scholarship, Jessica Ekhomu says she is “grateful to the donors that have sacrificed their resources to allow me to excel at Georgia State.” As a first generation college student from a family of nine, Jessica would not have had the chance to attend Georgia State without support from generous donors. “My family isn’t able to help me out financially so I rely on these scholarships to attend classes, live on campus, and conduct research,” she says. Jessica attended high school in rural Georgia and was ready to experience the diver­sity and opportunities of an urban research university.

She became involved in research the day she rushed into the Criminal Justice Department to turn in an application for the James L. Maddox, Jr. Scholarship. Dr. Michael Vaughn, Professor of Criminal Justice, saw her 4.0 GPA and outstanding resume, and immediately offered her a position with the Criminal Justice Review Journal sponsored by the Georgia State University Research Foundation. “From there, it snowballed and now I’m going to conferences, writing, publishing and doing research projects on my own,” Jessica says. She’s already published an entry regarding police liability in domestic violence instances in the Domestic Violence Encyclopedia with Dr. Vaughn. “Studying at Georgia State allowed me to see how I could play an integral role in the system by studying youth violence.”

Jessica developed her honors thesis on how religiosity affects youth risk behaviors. By conducting a content analysis on the messages that youth church group sessions convey to children, she was looking for a link between involvement in a church and the actions individuals take outside of the church.

Jessica hopes to be a faculty member at an urban research university herself one day after completing graduate school and earning a Ph.D. in Public Health. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program at Georgia State’s University’s Institute of Public Health.