When talking with Jo Buckley, you start to wonder if she’s slightly superhuman. Now in her third year of college, she juggles the collective titles of world traveler, community leader and triple major with ease. A Boettcher Scholar, she’s no stranger to hard work and persistence. That said, she credits CSU for pushing her outside of her comfort zone and making her the leader she is today.
As a high school senior, Jo had her pick of Colorado schools to attend thanks to her Boettcher Scholarship. She recalls a common theme during her campus tours. “One thing I heard from a lot of other colleges was ‘You did this to get to the best, to get to the end.’ It seemed like this competitive climbing of the ladder that wasn’t for me,” Jo explained.
When she visited CSU, something was different. “I got to CSU and they said ‘where are you going to make the most of yourself?’” She recalled. “It completely spoke to me.”
Global learner, local leader
Jo certainly has made the most of her time here. Since entering as an international studies major, she’s added on second and third majors in Spanish and history. Thanks to CSU’s extensive education abroad options, she has experience working with global communities. She’s spent time in Zambia and Spain and will be adding Cuba and Kenya to that list before the school year is out.
Combining current studies with global experience is also on the roster. Thanks to special faculty approval, Jo will incorporate her experiences during an upcoming alternative break trip to Kenya into a subsequent research paper. The trip will allow her to work with a host of local community partners, including a women’s co-op, a local primary school, and an educational foundation for youth.
“My challenges look a little different than ‘[saying to myself] oh my gosh, I’m going to study really hard for this test’. It’s more like ‘you’re going to learn a new language this semester’ or ‘ok, you’re going to get outside of your comfort zone living in another country or taking on completely new roles’,” she explained.
Locally, Jo directs a CSU volunteer program which teaches problem solving and social change skills to middle and high school students. “We make [the students] aware that they can be agents of change in their community; they’re not too young. [We] help them figure out who they are within the community, find a problem, and think about a solution,” she said.
A sense of belonging
Whether she’s working in local schools or walking across campus, Jo feels the emphasis on personal growth and the ‘we’re in it together’ attitude that resonated with her three years ago. “You can walk through the Oval or you can walk through the Monfort Quad and there’s always people, and if you want to make friends with anyone you just say ‘go Rams?’ and they respond and say ‘go Rams!’ and then you’re friends,” said Jo. “It helps when you have stress and tests and everything else that comes with college to know that I belong in this place and I’m comfortable here.”
“You should challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone, but you need to do it [in a way] that’s true to yourself.”
Broadening her impact
Thanks to a wealth of experience and skills she’s developed at CSU, Jo’s future plans are as vibrant as her current world. She’s currently looking towards working for global non-profits or teaching English abroad, as well as considering applying for fellowships or the Peace Corps. She explained, “I have an immense, immense value of education and I believe that education, especially educating women, can empower and strengthen the world.”