Ole Miss pre-med student from Hattiesburg juggles classes and mental health advocacy

Natalie Beth Seales
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

A University of Mississippi sophomore is proving that you can juggle a lot of college responsibilities, including pre-med courses and mental health advocacy, and still have a fun life.

Jessica Tran, 19, is actively involved in campus life, but many know her from her Instagram page, @JessJuggling.

Tran’s juggling career started during her latter years of high school when she decided she needed a new talent. She looked at YouTube videos to learn how to juggle.

“I would break stuff in my house, and my mom would get upset, so I had to only juggle outside for the longest time,” said Tran, “but now I just juggle everywhere.”

Tran graduated from Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg as salutatorian of her class, and her juggling grew in popularity after graduation.

“It wasn’t a well-known thing that I juggled,” she said. “Then I got bored in college and started an Instagram account. I started juggling everything in my dorm room…I was juggling while studying, and I would get people to film me, and people really seemed to enjoy it.”

Since then, Tran’s account has grown in popularity and has come to the attention of many students. Tran is frequently approached on campus and identified as the Juggling Girl.

Tran also extensively participates in extracurricular activities. She is a senator for the Sally Mcdonnell Barksdale Honors College and on the scholarship committee for her sorority, Chi Omega. Additionally, she considers her place on the executive board for Active Minds crucially important.

“Active Minds is an organization that raises awareness about mental health and illnesses,” said Tran. “During my freshman year, it was very evident that this campus had an unspoken problem with mental illness, and I think that this club will really break the stigma…

“We, as a society, are scared to talk about these ‘taboo’ topics,” she said, “and I think that’s bad because the opposite needs to happen. Mental illness is a very silent illness, and I see it on the same level as a physical illness. I think that this club will really raise awareness and say, ‘It is okay to be feeling this way.’”

Tran’s sister, Jenny Tran, is a student in the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy and is proud of her sister’s passion for Active Minds.

“She [Jessica] is bringing awareness to an issue that is overshadowed,” said Jenny Tran. “She is using social media outlets and her own voice.”

Jessica Tran is especially passionate about freshman on campus and making sure their experience is positive and constructive.

“There is not a perfect freshman year,” said Jessica Tran. “There is no textbook way to live freshman year. It is probably one of the most stressful and confusing years of your life.

“So what I want to tell freshman is that the way you are living your life right now is okay. This is a perfect year to just find yourself and find your place and find your friends – your purpose. Freshman year is your opportunity to discover what’s out there for you.”

Tran makes a daily practice of going out of her way to include and help others, and people have noticed.

“She’s always looking out for the people who are not in the spotlight,” said Sally Autry, Tran’s friend and classmate. “She wants everyone to be equal, and she gives everyone a chance to reach their full potential. She doesn’t want you to be like her. She tries to find things that make you express yourself.”

Tran’s sister also sees Jessica’s passion for younger students.

“She wants to serve others and help them,” said Jenny Tran. “Her goal in life is to make sure that they are headed on the path to what they want.”

Jessica Tran’s passion for helping others achieve their goals is also evident in her academic and career goals. She is majoring in chemistry with an emphasis in biochemistry in order to become a pediatric surgeon, and her sister was not surprised she decided to pursue the medical field in college.

“When we were kids, she [Jessica] always had a passion to be a doctor,” said Jenny Tran. “She has stuck to these ideals and goals until now. She is taking all these things that she is passionate about and taking it a step further.”

Jessica Tran chose pediatrics because she enjoys investing in children and valuing them for more than their stereotypical cuteness.

“I love kids. There’s just something about them that’s so interesting,” she said. “…They’re so young with so much potential, and I would love to help a kid become their dream.”

After finishing medical school, Tran would love to work within the state of Mississippi.

“I would love to give back to my own state…and give people the opportunities that it has given me,” she said.

Tran continues to make an impact on the Ole Miss campus, using her energetic and kind spirit that people gravitate toward to help other people achieve their goals. Whether it’s through juggling or mental health advocacy, Tran is actively leaving a lasting impression on the University of Mississippi.

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