Jessica Sansarran is a first-generation college graduate who pursued her bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida after discovering her passion for communications. While studying media production, management, and technology via UF Online, she was able to combine several exclusive interests and earn coveted broadcasting internships with WESH News and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
“When I applied to NASA they really loved my WESH experience, which stood out to them on my resume. I would love to stay in the space industry, but my goal is really to remain a science communicator in some capacity, and UF really set me up for that.”
COMMUNICATIONS ASSIGNMENT ENCOURAGES PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING
Raised in Orlando, Florida, Jessica first gained an interest in communications after taking radio and television production classes in high school. Seeking a flexible and affordable degree option after graduation, she found one in UF Online. As Jessica explains, “I looked at a few different schools and honestly, none of them seemed as good as UF. The degree was exactly what I was looking for and the cost was so much better than everywhere else.”
Jessica received an assignment to find and interview a news director while attending UF. After emailing several local directors in Orlando via LinkedIn, only one responded. It was WESH-Channel 2 News Director, Kirsten Wolff. “She majored in French language and literature and ended up going into news broadcasting. It was really cool to learn from her and see a first-hand account of how people can break into news if it’s something they really want,” said Jessica.
“UF is such an amazing school, so you wouldn’t think that it would be so affordable in comparison to everywhere else. When I saw that UF had an online program available, that was a huge green flag for me. You tend to think online programs lack quality, but with UF Online the quality and rigor is exactly the same. You’re still getting your work done, but it’s a great way to balance every other aspect of your life like family or a career.”
ONLINE DEGREE FORMAT ALLOWS FLEXIBILITY FOR INTERNSHIPS
When the time came to apply for an internship, Jessica reached out to Kirsten and they were able to coordinate the approval of a summer internship at WESH. As she describes the experience, “I grew up watching WESH, so getting to be there was amazing. Internships are meant for you to gain experience and be exposed to professional development. I got to learn from all of the reporters, and that was more where my head was at. I wanted to be a reporter at the time.”
Jessica enjoyed her time at WESH and soon applied to NASA’s internship program to continue her professional development. “They don’t wait for the application window to close, which I didn’t know at the time. When I first applied there were essentially no intern spots left,” explained Jessica. Persistence and another application window finally granted her access to NASA’s program. “I’m a broadcast intern at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. I’m under an umbrella of things like broadcasting and journalism, but my specific thing is that I’m kind of like a news producer. My team will write media advisories and talk to the experts who are the scientists behind these stories and who’ve been putting in research for years. We want it to be where someone who studies science can understand it, but also someone who works in something completely unrelated to aerospace can also understand what’s going on,” said Jessica on her development at NASA.
Although the Goddard Space Flight Center is located in Maryland, Jessica spends about 90% of her job working remotely from Orlando, and often makes trips to Kennedy Space Center located in nearby Cape Canaveral, Florida. “My team travels and does interviews at Kennedy. I remember the first time seeing the press site and just thinking ‘wow.’ I’ve been to Kennedy about 15 times now over the past year,” said Jessica. But it isn’t all fun and games. As she recalled the first of several scrubbed Artemis 1 launches, Jessica explained, “It was a very busy morning of the initially planned launch. I got there around midnight and the launch wasn’t scheduled until 8 am. Everyone was literally delirious by the time it got scrubbed, and at one point I think I was in an office just laying on the ground. It was impressive how all of the press members managed to stay so alert throughout the whole ordeal.”
“You really don’t need to have all of this experience, or be far along in your degree. If they see that you have an interest, they’re very willing to take you onboard and give you applicable experience. You can be anywhere in your career, you just have to show that you’re passionate about what you’re doing. I can’t stress enough that if an organization like NASA accepted me, then this is an incredible program.”
DEDICATED INTERN TO UF COMMUNIGATOR GRADUATE
After eight years as an undergraduate student, Jessica completed her UF degree in 2022. In recapping her emotions after finally receiving her degree, Jessica says “I used to make jokes when people would ask what year I was in and say I was a forever junior because I didn’t even know what it was like to be a college senior. I’m just really proud of myself for pushing through and doing what I had to do to earn this. It’s also a major I really wanted to study, which allowed me to discover and begin a new career that I love. It was just the best of both worlds.”
Jessica also credited UF’s supportive faculty members like Dr. David Ostroff when reflecting on her time with UF Online. As she recalls, “When I was trying to get my WESH internship approved it was so last minute, but Dr. Ostroff was so responsive. I’d email him and literally minutes later he’d respond. I know how busy he is and the fact that he was still so responsive really meant a lot to me.”
The University of Florida and UF Online wishes Jessica the very best as she ventures new horizons as an alumna and continues to display that sometimes not even the sky’s the limit.
EARN YOUR UF DEGREE IN MEDIA PRODUCTION, MANAGEMENT, AND TECHNOLOGY
Learn the art of making an impact while building professional skills by immersing yourself in the worlds of traditional and digital media. Offered by UF’s College of Journalism and Communications, the Media Production, Management, and Technology degree allows students to engage in exciting lessons while gaining applicable knowledge within the fast-paced world of media and mass communications. As a top-ranked online undergraduate program, UF Online offers a variety of majors and minors for students to choose from. Learn more about UF Online’s Media Production, Management, and Technology major by visiting the degree page, or sign up to attend an upcoming virtual information session.