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10-second bio: Meet Jerlena Griffin-Desta, world traveler at heart

Jerlena Griffin-DestaName: Jerlena Griffin-Desta

Title: Deputy to the Vice President for Student Affairs and Executive Director of Student Services

Department/Unit: Student Affairs/Student Services

Location: 9th floor, Franklin

When I started working at UCOP: August 2009

What I do for UCOP in five words or less: Help ensure student access and success

Best part about working for OP: I experience every day the congruence between my personal values and my professional priorities: educational access, equity and inclusion.

Something you don’t know about me: I have traveled and lived on every continent except Antarctica and recently learned through DNA testing on my dad’s side that I have cousins in southwestern Ghana, the Nzema people.

One weird fact about the town I grew up in: According to local folklore, St. Marys, Ga., claims to be the second oldest city in the United States (established 1787).  It would be the oldest, but St. Augustine, Fla. (90 miles away) received their charter first!

If I could have any job in the world (besides the one I have now) I would be: globetrotting as an anthro-cultural observer of peoples from all over the world. Living in their communities for months at a time, as a participant outsider, documenting their customs and traditions and noting the cultural variations between peoples. I guess I’m describing a cultural anthropologist, not necessarily as an academic, but rather as a  traveler, a wanderer, with deep respect for the ways in which people make sense of their lives through culture.


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  1. Pamela Brown April 8, 2014 Reply

    But what about your Ridgeback??

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