Jessica Morales is currently the Assistant Dean of Student Life. Morales started working at WNMU in 2003. About five years ago, Morales moved into the Student Life Department, which was an initiative brought forward by Dr. Isaac Brundage that didn’t previously exist on the WNMU campus. The Student Life Department is in charge of organizing all student programming on campus. They run cultural programming, welcome week activities, fitness facilities, clubs, and much more.
The Mustang Newspaper interviewed Jessica Morales, a female authority figure here at WNMU.
Q: Do you think women have equal rights to men today? Why or why not?
A: I think that we have equal rights, but I believe that the glass ceiling very much exists. It is made to appear like we have equal rights, but there are still a lot of hurdles and boundaries that are difficult for women to cross. I learned a while back that we’re very much still living in a “man’s world.” Men dictate it. Men set the rules, and there’s very little understanding of what women go through. We are expected to run the man’s race and raise the children. I am not saying men don’t raise the children as well, but I do believe that the pressures of that are very different. Even the authority that men bring versus the authority that women bring is different. When women are in authoritative roles very often, we are commented on our demeanor. Do we smile enough? Are we kind enough? Are we likable? I have yet to find men under that same scrutiny.
Q: Who is the most influential woman in your life? How did she inspire you?
A: I don’t think there is just one woman. My mother taught me so much about patience and understanding unconditional love. I think that that has played a significant role in my relationships with my children, my boyfriend, friends, coworkers, and my family. My mother is currently battling stage IV breast cancer. Her positive attitude has been inspirational, and her strength is admirable. It’s a difficult journey. Not just for her, but for our entire family. I’ve learned a lot through this journey with her. She is an amazing influence. My grandmother was the most loving individual. She was such a tiny, little woman, and she was so tough! She had this enormous faith in God and had such a generous heart. She always wanted to help. A very dear friend of mine by the name of Leanne Robinson is an influential woman in my life as well. She has just been monumental in helping me navigate through life, giving me advice, and teaching me about strength. As far as my personal life, then yes! Those are women!
Q: As a woman, what are the challenges you believe remain in today’s society?
A: I think the challenge is that we want to be understood. We want to be heard. We want to be given the equity and the respect that men are given. We are not. We can’t by default. We can’t belong to the good old boy system in a world that the good old boy system still tends to prevail.
Q: Why is it essential to have a month on the woman?
A: People often talk about inequality, discrimination, political discrimination, religious discrimination, racial discrimination, or cultural discrimination. I think we have to talk about discrimination against women. We talk about it in the way of “the woman can still be the CEO,” or “the woman can still run for president,” and that may be very true. The battle that the woman faces to get to that spot and the hate that she indoors along the way is much different than the path that the man takes. I don’t think people like us to talk about these things. I believe the month is a good time for women to sit back and have some solidarity. She can even find a friend, a confidant, someone who can lead you, inspire you, and be there for you.
Q: How does it feel to be successful here at Western New Mexico University?
A: I think many different terms define success. I believed my whole life, if I worked hard, did a good job, put in all my effort, and had this passion, I would be successful. That’s true. Sometimes, it is not always this black-and-white picture. I don’t know that I technically would measure myself as successful. I think that I’ve done what I could, and I’ve worked hard for it. This is something that I’ve always wanted, and I love my job. I love my career and I love what I do. I love working with students here at the university. I love student development. I love seeing students grow and find something within themselves that they didn’t even know existed. This is my favorite part of working in the Student Life Department. If I measure success in terms of helping students, I think that I’ve been able to do that for some students on some level. I believe that there is still a way to go, but it hasn’t been an easy road. It is still not an easy road. I grew up with a great support system and had a wonderful family! My little family of four seems to keep checking me along and my two beautiful kids.