Jessie Rising posing for her softball team headshot. GOJASPERS/ COURTESY
By Katie Heneghan, Senior Writer
Senior Pitcher Jessie Rising of the Manhattan College softball team was recently named the Valedictorian of the Undergraduate Class of 2022. As a student-athlete, Rising has gone above and beyond the expectations of her peers, teammates and professors. In her four years at Manhattan, Rising has accumulated quite the resume of credentials in order to be named valedictorian.
As an athlete, Rising leads the defending MAAC Champion softball team as captain. She’s shared some of her favorite memories alongside her teammates in Jasper green and white.
“My favorite memory is and forever will be winning the MAAC tournament last year,” Rising said. “The moment was something that I will take with me when my career comes to an end in a few weeks. I remember seeing the smile on my teammate’s faces, and the pride my family felt. It made all of the hard work worth it, and it was a dream come true for the little girl who started playing softball. There are only 21 Manhattan College jerseys in the world, and I’m honored to have worn one of them.”
As a student, Rising has stayed heavily involved in the School of Science and beyond, earning numerous accolades on her way to valedictorian.
“I am president of the Biology Honor Society (TriBeta), President of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Honor Society (ASBMB on campus), Vice president of the pre-health honor society Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED), a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Epsilon Sigma Pi, and a peer academic tutor for the Center of Academic Success. I also participated in research with Dr. Machingo in the Biology department as well as a self-study on bird strikes at the Higgins Engineering building with Dr. Shockey,” Rising told The Quadrangle.
Biology professor, Dr. Bruce Shockey, writes his high praises for Rising. Beyond her excellent academic track record, Shockey believes Rising has always been a valued member of the classroom and mentor.
“Ms. Rising especially excelled as an impromptu class mentor, gravitating toward students who were not keeping up in class. For example, she has ended up at lab benches where struggling students worked and essentially became that person’s lab partner in order to help them along,” wrote Shockey.
In acting as a mentor to students, Shockey says Rising also has become a great help to her professors as a whole. Rising often volunteered to serve as a spokesperson on behalf of the School of Science and Biology Department at Accepted Students Days and Orientation activities.
“Jessie is one who likes to help her peers in the classroom. But she is also a great help to her teachers. Jessie helps by working hard and serving as a role model for the less motivated. She teaches by example, not by persuasive arguments. She gets to work and invites others to follow,” Shockey said.
As President of the Tri-Beta Biology Honors Society, Rising has volunteered countless hours of community service.
“These activities included gathering toys for underprivileged children at Christmas and her volunteering over 100 hours as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Hotline,” wrote Shockey.
Jessie’s teammate, sophomore Mollie Charest, has admired Rising since her early days as a Jasper. Charest detailed Jessie’s profound impact on her personally, and the Jasper softball team as a whole.
“Jessie has become the person that I am proud to look up to both on and off the field. She shows leadership on the field, always picking up our teammates when their down. No matter the situation, Jessie always has a smile on her face, as her giggles and humorous comments never seem to fade,” said Charest.
Charest recalls a moment on the field Jessie displayed her true character as a team player saying, “I went through struggles during my first few years at Manhattan, and I let it get the best of me on the mound. The moment that will stick with me forever was my freshman year when a timeout was called, and Jessie ran in from the outfield to give me words of affirmation. She has changed me as both a player, as well as a person in general. Our team is beyond fortunate to have had a teammate like Jessie, and have created life-long bonds with her. Jessie is the person that and my teammates know will be there for us at a drop of a dime. Jessie is the definition of a true “teammate”, as she is someone that we all aspire to be.”
Balancing a successful academic and athletic career over the last four years has been no easy task, however, Rising finds her balance on the field by using Softball as her release from everyday stressors.
“Being a student-athlete is not easy by any means. Keeping my priorities straight was easy when I kept my goals in mind. I dedicated my career here to using the sport I love as a release and capitalizing on the fantastic education here at Manhattan College. Here, we are able to be students before we are athletes, which made this possible for me,” Rising said.
Rising has maintained a strong appreciation for the college and the people who have helped her reach this successful crossroads. As for advice to her fellow classmates, Rising has a few words of encouragement.
“If I could give advice to my fellow classmates, I would tell them to be kind to those around them and to embrace their little victories on their way to their life goals,” Rising said. “To the underclassmen, have fun, make a lot of memories, but also take advantage of a top-tier education. And to everyone, remember to walk by faith, not by sight. God uses all things for good.”
Upon graduation and the completion of her softball career, Rising will move on to graduate school at Thomas Jefferson University to become a physician’s assistant.
Her teammates and professors believe she has a bright future ahead. Mollie Charest describes finding out Rising was valedictorian as remarkably moving.
“I remember the exact moment that I got the message that Jessie was named valedictorian,” Charest said. “Although I had no doubt in my mind that Jessie would receive it, I couldn’t help but catch a tear running down my cheek. The biggest smile overtook my face, as I was beyond proud. Jessie has overcome many obstacles in life, but she has done nothing but use those obstacles as fuel to exceed expectations. Jessie deserves this, she worked for this, and I know she will continue to do big things in life,”
Rising continues to emphasize her appreciation for the college and those who have supported her these last four years. She accredits many of her accolades to the support she has received.
“I’m incredibly lucky to be a part of the Biology department, as they have given me all of the tools, and an abundance of knowledge that has given me so much confidence going into my career,” Rising said. “Being surrounded by my Manhattan College family as well as my family at home is being surrounded by people who truly believe in me. My brother has been my biggest motivation and I am honored to be the valedictorian this year.”