Founder’s daughter: ‘Important I become my own person’

Her father is a successful classic car business owner, a movie producer and one of JSerra Catholic High School’s founders.

Although Jenna Spizzirri, 22, plans to carve her own path in business, she shares at least one trait with her father, Marc– the ability to juggle multiple challenges simultaneously.

Marc and Jenna Spizzirri

Named this month to the Notre Dame University’s Dean’s List, the younger Spizzirri is juggling a double major in graphic design and psychology while preparing for a career as an event planner.

“My father always stressed that my brother and I do our own thing,” Jenna Spizzirri says. “I admire his many accomplishments, but I think it is important that I become my own person.”

Marc Spizzirri says he couldn’t be more impressed.

“She’s very motivated, and is always looking for the next obstacle to knock down,” he says. “I’m very proud of her.”

JSerra Blog asked her to discuss her college experience.

Which is more fun, a JSerra football game or a Notre Dame football

Sorry, JSerra, but I have to say a Notre Dame football game. Not many things can compare to the energy found on the Notre Dame campus during a home football game weekend, not to mention the excitement of cheering on the Irish from inside that famous football stadium.

Jenna Spizzirri

What is the most surprising difference between life at Notre Dame and
life in San Juan Capistrano? 

Definitely the weather. It is hard to leave paradise to face the brutal weather of the Midwest.  My friends at Notre Dame like to make fun of me by calling me SoCal since I am always bundled up and still am freezing! As my dad would say, it builds character.

Who is your hero? 

This may come as a bit of a shock to him, but I would have to say my older brother, Joe (a JSerra valedictorian and Notre Dame graduate). I have a tremendous amount of respect for his outstanding character and his ability to always stay true to himself.  Not to mention, he has a heart of gold. He has always been there for me whenever I need him and is constantly encouraging me.  He is also one of the hardest workers I know.  He does whatever it takes to accomplish his goals, both academically and athletically. His great example has pushed me to be the best person, student, and athlete that I can be.

Most challenging class thus far at Notre Dame?

One that particularly stands out was a philosophy course I took my freshman year. The logic was difficult for me to follow at first since I was not used to philosophical thinking. This presented a challenge for writing the many papers required for the class.

Most challenging class at JSerra? 

Dr. Jan Kilduff’s AP Chemistry class.  I am not the best science student and, needless to say, that class really kicked my butt.  I spent a great deal of time on homework assignments and studying for tests for that class.  However, Dr. Kilduff still remains one of my favorite teachers from my time at JSerra. I would recommend his classes to any current students.

What advice would you give to graduating seniors hoping to gain
admission to Notre Dame? 

My biggest piece of advice would be to get involved in clubs and/or organizations that interest you and not to worry about stacking your resume.  Notre Dame is most interested in looking for well-rounded individuals so it is important to show how you spend your time outside of the classroom.  Of course, your work in the classroom is of extreme importance as well.

What do you do when you’re not studying? 

Like most college students I enjoy spending time with my friends.  I also like to attend Notre Dame athletic events, and I play a lot of interhall sports.  Notre Dame is filled with varsity high school athletes so the competition is pretty high, which makes the sports leagues a lot of fun.  Interhall sports are the same as intramural.  Notre Dame places you in a dorm at the beginning of your freshman year and you stay in that same hall during all four years.  All of these dorms compete against each other in every sport and activity you can imagine, from football to soccer to broomball.

Please share your biggest accomplishments in the past five years.

For me, the greatest achievement has been my growth as a person.  Leaving home and being in a different state has enabled me to discover who I am.  I also like to think that my biggest accomplishments in life are ahead of me.

How well did JSerra prepare you for the rigors of college in South Bend? 

I think that JSerra prepared me well for the extremely competitive academic climate of Notre Dame.  However, college is more than just academics. JSerra also prepared me for moving away from home and provided me with the spiritual and moral foundation to handle life’s challenges.