Campus Life Editor
To describe Campus Life Editor Jackie Au as adventurous would be an understatement. As we sat down over Zoom, she was lounging outside on her balcony playing the banjo — an instrument she picked up on a whim, just for fun — to pass the time. Au is not the type of person to wistfully pine about things she wishes she could do, but never get around to it; when she wants to learn a new skill or take up a new hobby, she happily follows through. Some of her hobbies and passions include hiking, making beautiful pottery, and biking.
However, she does not wander aimlessly wherever the wind takes her without goals or ambition. Au perfectly balances her free-spirited, venturesome nature with enough focus and determination to do well and achieve her goals.
Au’s zestful personality can also be seen in her time playing water polo. She said, “I didn’t start playing water polo until I was in high school, which is rare for a lot of people. They usually start young, or they’ll swim before. I just decided, one day, that I wanted to do it, and then I did it.” Au played all four years of high school and continues to play center position on the College’s Women’s Water Polo team. In fact, she chose Whittier College specifically to play water polo: “I loved playing water polo — meeting with my teammates and competing.” Overall, playing water polo has been an extremely important part of her time at Whittier College. It was challenging for her to balance water polo, the Quaker Campus, and being a full-time student. While, sometimes, it felt like it would have been much easier to choose between water polo and the Quaker Campus, Au is glad she stuck it out, and is happy she was able to enjoy both. She would like to see more student athletes, or anyone who is interested but does not feel like that have time, to branch out and try new things like the Quaker Campus because of how fulfilling it has been for her. Her advice for those willing to balance both is to “try to get as much sleep as you can. You cannot procrastinate on your school work; it will be really hard. Communicate with your coworkers because they’ll understand.”
While it may have seemed nearly impossible to balance, Au continued to not even just barely balance them, but excel in academics, water polo, and her job at the Quaker Campus, proving her hard work, talent, and determination.
Au found her passion for journalism as a first-year, when she took a class with the Quaker Campus’ Faculty Advisor, Professor Joe Donnelly. She never planned on partaking in journalism in any form, let alone becoming a section editor for the College’s newspaper, but Professor Donnelly eventually convinced her to come to a meeting. She is extremely thankful to Professor Donnelly for introducing her to the QC because “I don’t think I would have found it otherwise, and that would have made a big difference to not have it. It’s been a really important part of my collegiate career.”
Despite how hectic her first production night with the QC was, Au heavily enjoyed the atmosphere and camaraderie of the deep friendships you make through the chaos and hard work, and felt the whole experience was heavily rewarding. Au fell in love with working at the Quaker Campus because of the friendships. Au said that she loves how the Quaker Campus makes a difference, and appreciates the combined efforts from the entire staff: “It can be difficult. . . because it’s all student-run, your boss is a peer. I like that because it shows a dedicated team of people, even though it is tedious work. Sometimes, writing, editing, staying up late, and interviewing people can seem like extra school [work], but it’s so awesome that everyone has the same desire to do it.”
Au has always expressed gratitude for her coworkers because she sees how much work and dedication everyone puts into publishing an excellent newspaper. Au was drawn to Campus Life because she wanted to step up and take on a bigger leadership role. She saw that the section had previously been “orphaned” without an editor, so she spent years dedicated to growing, nurturing, and ultimately transforming it. The Quaker Campus has given Au new skill sets and opportunities, like her job at the news organization Who What Why. Her ultimate goal is to pursue a career in law, but she also wants to continue to work in journalism because of her love and passion for it.
Au extends her willingness to always step up to the plate in her college major and career goals. She is a Political Science major and Anthropology minor, with plans to go to law school and become a lawyer. Au has always loved actively engaging in politics and has wanted to be a lawyer from a young age, so she naturally chose the political science route: “I just really want to be able to make a difference, and politics is a really good way to do that.”
Au put her major to use recently and interned in the Los Angeles Senate Office of then Senator, Vice President Kamala Harris, for a year. She said that working at the Quaker Campus helped her take initiative with that job because of skills she has picked up working with InDesign. That opportunity helped her build a relationship with Whittier College alumna and Head of Communications for Southern California, Brenda Gonzales.
Au also found her love of anthropology through college. “I think it’s really interesting to learn about the history of humankind, and I took another [anthropology class], and another one, and then I decided I had taken enough to add it as a minor.” She aspires to continue studying it and would love to go on a real dig someday.
Outside of school, Au spends much of her free time making pottery. She started making her art because of a high school class that she, admittedly, did not want to take because she did not want to get dirty. However, she quickly fell in love with it, found a job at a pottery studio, and even teaches pottery at a summer camp. She sells her pottery, too. Pottery has been a very important creative outlet for Au.
Biking is another activity she frequently engages in. Before college, she would bike for transportation, but, with the COVID-19 pandemic, and water polo being shut down, she started biking for exercise. Au joined a women’s biking club in Whittier and thoroughly enjoys the community. “I’ve gotten to see a lot of cool things. I got to bike through Angeles National Forest and bike up to Mount Baldy. It’s given me a way to be out of the house, but safely.” Her goal this year is to go bike-packing through California, from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Jackie Au is kind, witty, down-to-earth, passionate, and determined as h—ll. While her style and personality is very laid-back, she rises up to every opportunity and gives her all to every aspect of her life. For now, you might stumble across Au biking on a trail deep in the forest, in the pottery studio, or excelling at another hobby she will pick up on a whim — but it is clear that she is going great places, and, one day, you will see her change the world.
Featured Image: Jackie Au / Quaker Campus