Jenessa Lu’s talent for storytelling has many roots but one important one may be her willingness to look at life from different perspectives. She started exploring her craft early on with an influential freshman-year history course, where she read about various eras and worlds. She found people’s stories powerful and started to tell them herself. Her talents have shown through as she began taking home awards for her writing, including at Walker’s and the Harvard Writing Contest.
She continued to cultivate her talents in many ways at Walker’s. Always interested in different views on the world, Jenessa signed up to head to Tanzania for her Junior Project. The volunteer trip was focused on constructing a classroom for local children and learning about life in the village. “What drove me to this program was mostly my curiosity about the life of those living in another country. I was curious about their life, how theirs might be different from mine, and, since I had been on a similar volunteering trip during middle school, I believed that it would be an amazing experience.”
Tanzania showed how willing Jenessa was to step outside her comfort zone to find new ways of seeing. At Walker’s she found many ways to express this, especially through photography, where she spent hours in the lab honing and exploring the craft. “I normally would shoot at least once every week in the studio with my friends as my model,” says Jenessa who is from Shanghai, China. “I would have different themes in my mind prior to the shooting session, but oftentimes I would go with the setting and models.” She eventually put her photographs into a portfolio that won her a spot in a school coveted by the most creative minds: New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Admission to Tisch may seem like a natural evolution for this artist, but for this graduating senior, it has been a major breakthrough from her time at Walker’s. She says her education at Walker’s changed her way of seeing the progression of her studies as more than “merely a way to get into college and then get a job; it made me believe that art and stories also matter. It gave me room to explore my talent that I knew I would never be able to find elsewhere.”
As Jenessa prepares to graduate from Walker’s, she has many thoughts and memories of her time here, especially quality time with friends and teachers. But adds, half-jokingly, there’s one big bragging right she’ll take with her: “Dials winning for four years straight!”