Jada Ingalls (2nd Quarter, 2006)

2nd Quarter, 2006
Science Scholarship Winner
Jada Ingalls

Jada Ingalls is a 22 year old York, PA resident. Jada is currently a senior at Eastern University in St. David’s, PA. At Eastern Jada is studying for her B.S. in biology with a pre-med emphasis. Additionally, Jada has minors in chemistry and missions.

In addition to her studies, Jada is very active in her campus community. She has been a campus ministry leader, co-president of Eastern’s Student Mission Fellowship, and lead one of Eastern’s international mission trips to Bolivia this past summer.

A Portion of Jada’s Winning Essay:

Jada Ingalls

Throughout our lives we are confronted with intensely trying situations that threaten to leave us deserted in a bottomless pit of despair. It is easy to allow our circumstances to define our lives in such a way that we abandon all our hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the future; however, those who can turn their personal trials to account are the ones with the power to change the lives of others and the world. This struggle to change the outcome of an event having the potential to crush one’s spirit into something that inspires resilience and produces a drive to transform the world is the battle in which I currently find myself.

As a result of my own personal experiences with sexual harassment and assault during college, I am majoring in the scientific field of biology with aspirations of attending medical school after graduation to become an OB/GYN focusing on sexually abused women and children.

Although the vast majority of people have wonderful memories about their freshman year of college, this is not the case for me. My freshman year I was confronted with the trial of having been sexually harassed and assaulted by several male students, which eventually lead me to two attempted suicides. Having never experienced this before and thus being totally unprepared for how to deal with the problem, I turned to my family, friends, and campus security and administration for help.

Unfortunately I did not receive the support I needed and was told by all that what had happened was my fault and that boys will be boys, neither of which I believe to be true. I was fortunate enough to not have succeeded at suicide and came home that summer a very broken and depressed individual with an intense hatred for men, love, dating, and marriage.

Despite my wishes to remain in my bottomless pit of despair, my parents insisted that I continue on with my education so I transferred to another college, Eastern University. I spent my entire sophomore year living with unrelenting anger because of what I had experienced my freshman year and did not allow myself to become emotionally close to anyone because the response of my family, friends, and campus authorities had left me with a deep distrust of all people.

For over a year and a half, I kept my battles with anger, hatred, shame, and distrust to myself. However, midway through the first semester of my junior year at Eastern, one of my lifelong friends had had enough. She flat out told me that she did not know what had happened to me but that whatever it was had changed my entire personality and I needed to go for counseling. I was angry with my friend for confronting me because I knew that what she had said was true and that meant I had to do something about it. I had been thinking that by not telling anyone about the events of my freshman year I was protecting myself from being even further hurt by the unpredictable responses of others; however, the words of truth spoken by my friend were undeniable-my boundaries were not keeping other people out, they were only fencing me in.

The next day I jumped the first hurdle in the healing process by going to see a counselor at the university. This past year has been a tremendous struggle for me by way of processing what happened to me and why, forgiving, and changing my perceptions of men and love.
Though I faced several difficulties this past year in overcoming the obstacle of having been sexually assaulted, the most difficult has been forgiveness.

By March of this past year I had come to a place where I had forgiven the men who had hurt me but needed to prove it to myself. In pursuit of this, one of my friends from Eastern University accompanied me on a visit to the college I had attended my freshman year. Despite the pain of what had happened and my previous need to cling to anger, I found that I had forgiven the worst individual to such a degree that I was able to give him a hug when I saw him.

After having triumphed in this respect, I thought that I had successfully pulled myself up by the boot straps and conquered the most challenging trial of my life, but it was not until I went on a trip to Bolivia with a group of students from Eastern that I discovered that there was more healing yet to be done.

At the request of Eastern University staff and students, I co-led a group of 15 students from Eastern on a two week trip to Bolivia to work with Medical Assistance Program International, which is run by the parents of one of Eastern’s international students, Brisa D’Anguelo. While on the trip we volunteered at a medical clinic, rebuilt Bolivian houses to prevent insects known as chagas from biting and killing the people, assisted health promoters serving the disabled in mountain villages, built a playground for children at a school started by Brisa, and taught girls at Brisa’s child sexual abuse center how to knit.

It was a difficult decision for me to agree to help lead this trip because all of the planning and preparing occurred while I was in the midst of struggling with recovering from my sexual assault issues. To be completely honest I did not want to go because I knew that we would be working with sexually abused children, which I was afraid would constantly remind me of what happened to me that first year of college. However, I refused to be defined and imprisoned by what happened to me my freshman year, so I agreed to go to Bolivia.

What I experienced while in Bolivia has changed my life by providing me with a driving force to continue to pursue by B.S. in biology and given me the dream of pursuing medical school to be an OB/GYN.
While working with the sexually abused children in Bolivia, my heart was broken time and again by what these children had experienced. The girls at the sexual abuse center ranged from six months to 16 years in age. They told me that in Bolivia women have no legal rights, but technically men are not permitted to rape women. However, very little is done to defend a woman who has been violated. They told me that it was extremely common for fathers to rape their daughters and that it is estimated that one in every three girls will be raped by a teacher by the time she reaches fourth grade.

It was because of Brisa’s own personal experience of being raped that she started the sexual abuse center known as Centro una Brisa de Esperanza, which translates to “Center for a Breeze of Hope”. If a girl is raped she may come to the center for legal help, counseling, free meals, and lessons on how to take care of herself and her baby.

Despite all of the great things the sexual abuse center in Cochabamba, Bolivia provides, it is the only one of its kind in the country and is limited by the fact that a callous government employed doctor is the only person with the legal authority to run a rape DNA test. The girls at the center told me of how the doctor had laughed at them and called all his male students in to mock the girls after they had come to him for help because the girls knew the only hope they had of winning a legal case was DNA evidence. To make things even worse, the doctor was neither patient nor understanding with the girls, and when they were reluctant to let him examine them he would violently pull their legs apart, which to them, felt just as if they were being raped again.

The center is also limited by a lack of funding which prevents the center from staying open at night. This means that if a girl is raped by her father and comes to the center for help, the lawyers at the center are legally bound to file a case against the father and because she has no where else to go, the girl must go home to her father again that night. The girls told me that it is common for a father to kill his daughter if she had told anyone about him raping her and that the government does not punish the father for this because the victim is no longer there to complain.

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