Stories by

Jessica Villagomez

By Chad Rhym

In her sophomore year of high school, Jessica Villagomez faced a tough choice for a teenager. To resolve a scheduling conflict, she was forced to decide between taking a driver's education course or a journalism writing class. Choosing the latter changed her life. "I still don't know how to drive, but everything kind of started from there,” Jessica said, adding that she thought journalism “was super cool, fun and interesting.”

Jessica, 22, grew up in the Chicago suburbs. and attended DePaul University, where she was editor of the student newspaper. She graduated with a journalism degree in 2017. Jessica has interned with several publications including: In These Times magazine, the Better Government Association, Hoy Chicago and “NewsHour.” She is pursuing a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University.

After graduation, Jessica hopes to work as a reporter covering immigration issues. She credits her passion for social justice to her parents, who were immigrants from Mexico.

“I'm inspired by the opportunities I have that weren't granted to my immigrant parents,” Jessica said. It’s impossible to ignore the negative impact American immigration policy has on generations of families, and for Jessica, this remains a glaring American inequality. Nonetheless, she has stories to tell.

Photo by JuliAnna Patino/NYT Institute

After a Manhattan lawyer was caught on video making xenophobic comments at Spanish speakers, some New York City immigrants have re-examined their relationship with the language and are trying to better their grasp of English.