Published Aug 24, 2023
Master’s Student Selected for Ginsburg Fellows Program
Jessica Brown, an Instructional Design & Technology student, was recently accepted into the Ginsburg Fellows Program for her nonprofit work on sickle cell disease.
Jessica Brown, a student in Full Sail's Instructional Design & Technology master’s program, was recently accepted into the inaugural cohort of the Ginsburg Fellows Program. This program is an initiative put on in partnership between the Ginsburg Family Foundation – a nonprofit based in Central Florida focused on equity, systemic change, and education – and the Take Action Institute, a program supported by The Holocaust Memorial & Research Center of Florida to enable high school and college students to take effective action in their communities.
Dr. Lua Hancock, the director of the Ginsburg Fellows Program at the Ginsburg Family Foundation, explains the idea behind why the foundation launched this project: “We wanted to provide an incubator for college students who have an interest in starting a nonprofit.”
The organization selected six students for its inaugural cohort program this year which launched in July. The foundation looks for students with a specific purpose for their nonprofit, ideas that align with the foundation’s mission, whether they have the time to commit to the project, and the long-term potential sustainability of it. “We walk them through the process of creating a nonprofit. We help with mentoring, connecting them to other nonprofits, and provide them with an academic scholarship and seed funding for their nonprofit projects.”
Jessica recently launched her own nonprofit called Agape Roots Foundation to help educate, support, and donate to those dealing with sickle cell disease, an inherited genetic blood disorder that's directly impacted her.
“My son was definitely a catalyst [in inspiring me to start this nonprofit],” she says. “He was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at just two weeks old. It was a shock to us because we had no family history of it. It set our world on edge, and doctors gave us a grim diagnosis. After going through the normal grief, I began researching holistic treatments used abroad.”
“It’s all about managing the condition,” Jessica says. She adds that proper nutrition and identifying a supportive team of doctors have contributed to her son’s stability. “Our son is almost four and has been healthy every day for a while. The fact he’s not in the hospital every month is a true blessing.”
Through the nonprofit, she is putting together educational materials, supplements, oximeters, and other resources that can benefit families in need. She is also involved in blood drives and wants to provide more access to screenings for compatible blood donation matches for those impacted by the disease. Her ultimate goal is to create a network of patients and doctors in the sickle cell community to have a more open dialogue on how to manage and treat the condition.
Lua, whose husband Alan Hancock happens to be a course director in Full Sail’s Sports Marketing & Media bachelor’s program, says she has been quite impressed working with Jessica. “Jessica is very passionate about health equity,” Lua says. “She has lived the challenges with her own son that she doesn’t want other parents to experience. She is thinking purposefully about how she can use her academic endeavors at Full Sail toward helping her with her nonprofit.”
Jessica says she is extremely grateful for being part of such an exclusive group in the Ginsburg Fellows Program. “[The program] has allowed me to step outside of my area and make connections to help me achieve my goal of making lasting change in the community," she says.