The Charger Blog

Recent Graduate Personifies Power of Perseverance

Jessica Esposito ’19, ’20 M.S. didn’t let being diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune disorder stop her from earning two degrees and a position as adjunct professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven.

January 17, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Frank Esposito Jr. ’84 and Jessica Esposito ’19, ’20 M.S.
Frank Esposito Jr. ’84 and Jessica Esposito ’19, ’20 M.S.

For Jessica Esposito ’19, ’20 M.S. being a Charger is something of a family tradition.

So it was only natural that, as her college search began, she planned to follow in the footsteps of her father, Frank Esposito Jr. ’84, who recently retired after working at the University for 16 years – following two decades with the Orange Police Department – and her brother, Anthony Esposito ’15, by attending the University of New Haven.

As a first-year student, she worked for the late Richard Ward, Ph.D., a former dean of the University of New Haven’s Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, and, later, for then-dean Mario Gaboury, Ph.D., and then-assistant dean David Schroeder, Ph.D.

"I was fortunate to meet some extraordinary people and make professional friendships with the full-time faculty," Esposito wrote in a recent story published in the Milford-Orange Times. "I was grateful for the opportunity to work there, because in December 2017 my life would change forever."

"I’m thankful to everyone at the University who helped me succeed these past few years."Jessica Esposito ’19, ’20 M.S.

In late October 2017, Esposito thought she had come down with a virus. Over the next two months, she became increasingly weak. By December, she was diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that does not have a cure, but can be treated with medication.

Committed to her studies, Esposito persevered and decided to become a part-time student to be able to juggle doctors’ appointments with her course load and her position as a student worker on campus. She completed her bachelor’s degree last January and decided to continue her education. She recently completed her master’s degree in investigations.

"I knew it would be a lot of work," said Esposito. "But I was determined to do it."

Esposito will soon transition from student to professor as she will be teaching an online course during the spring semester.

"I’m thankful to everyone at the University who helped me succeed these past few years, and for the amazing opportunity that I will be embarking on," she said.