The guitar rests on Junior Jessie Erickson’s lap, her only companion in the dorm room as everyone else has left for break. Coaxed by the fortune cookie hanging on the wall over her bed reading, “sell your ideas they have exceptional merit,” she turns on the video camera and records her cover of “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore. The YouTube video began as an act of boredom but soon transformed into a dream come true for Erickson as that video, posted just seven months ago, now has almost 4,000 views.
Jessie’s first experience with music was in fourth grade when she started playing the violin. In seventh grade, she picked up her brother’s guitar and soon after teaching herself to play, bought one for herself.
“Ever since I was younger, I’ve always enjoyed art,” Jessie said. “When I picked up the violin and the guitar, they were just new artistic outlets for me, so I went from drawing and coloring to picking up new instruments and writing songs.”
Currently Jessie is taking classes in the hopes to become a music teacher in the future.
“Jessie is such an intelligent and expressive musician and a warm and caring person,” Associate Professor of Music Dr. Patricia Snapp said. “It is a joy to work with her in her voice lessons.”
In addition to the pursuit of her major in music education, Jessie is a member of the Gustavus choir and Symphony Orchestra. Her first year at Gustavus she was involved in Habitat for Humanity before joining the Servant Leadership Program last year, which she intends to continue her involvement in this year. Additionally, she’s helping to foster the safe and welcoming community of Gustavus as a Collegiate Fellow.
“My first two years here were a big transition and everyone around me who supported me allowed me to be who I wanted and pursue what I wanted,” Jessie said. “The best way I thought I could give back as an upperclassman is as a CF because it allows me to foster the right community not only within the dorm but on campus and elsewhere.”
Jessie’s role as a CF but also a member of the Gustavus community is exemplified by the impact she continues to have on others.
“She has the ability to hold a leadership position without deterring people from coming to talk to her and without seeming above anyone else. She is a peer,” Jessie’s friend, Kelli Remboldt said. “Her role at Gustavus can be described as an authentic friend.”
While Jessie values each organization she’s been a part of, she believes that her experience in the Student Leadership Program has left the most impact on her life today.
“We focused a lot on introspection, communication, listening and vocation. That, itself, has been the single most important and useful thing I got out of SLP because while you don’t think about listening as a skill, it is,” Jessie said. “I use everything we talked about in SLP every day because I learned who I was.”
In the eyes of Assistant Director for Community-Based Service and Learning, David Newell, Jessie’s vested interest in people is just one of the reasons she’s deserving of Gustie of the Week.
“She has an authentic, genuine curiosity about people and the world,” Newell said. “She deserves Gustie of the Week not just because she’s involved, but because she’s genuinely interested in people.”
As she begins her junior year, Jessie is determined to continue on the path she’s been traveling thus far.
“I’d like to continue to better who I am and what I’d like to become. I feel like in the past few years I’ve really developed a sense of who I am, where I am going and what I aspire to be,” Jessie said. “These next two years I no longer have to worry about where I fit in. Because of what I’ve learned at Gustavus, I have a solid understanding of who I am.”
Those who have come to know Jessie believe in her so strongly that they know exactly where she will end up after Gustavus.
“Jessie shares her love for the world through her music and, as an audience member, you can feel it. She is so passionate that it exudes from her guitar and voice and makes others smile with joy,” Remboldt said. “After Gustavus, Jessie will be a musician.”