Alumna Spotlight: Jessica Neppl

Jessica Neppl
Jessica Neppl

TRIO SSS student transfers to St. Olaf

Jessica Neppl, 19, started fall semester 2018 as a sophomore at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Jessica resides in Mohn Hall on the St. Olaf campus. She could not be happier about attending one of the top private liberal arts colleges in the U.S.

A 2017 graduate of Eastview High School, Jessica began her collegiate journey at Inver Hills Community College. She was undecided about her major and future career plans, but she knew Inver Hills was a smart place to launch her quest to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go to college after I graduated from high school,” Jessica related, “but I wanted to go somewhere to get some general education credits completed before transferring to a four-year university. My mom also went to Inver Hills, so I figured Inver would be a good place to start.”

Jessica worked while attending Inver Hills as a dining assistant at Ecumen Seasons at Apple Valley. She also joined TRIO Student Support Services and worked with her TRIO advisor, Carolyn Vue, to research her transfer options. Carolyn reported that Jessica was awarded a $1,000 EOA Board of Directors Scholarship, a highly competitive regional scholarship, while she was at Inver.

“Jessica is one hundred percent grit and persistence,” Carolyn said. “She is a self-starter and takes advantage of all the opportunities available to her. When she heard of the chance to apply for the scholarship, Jessica did not hesitate. The same attitude applied when she decided to transfer to St. Olaf. That’s her take on life: if a door of opportunity presents itself, you find a key or another way in. No matter what, Jessica won’t stop until she has achieved her dreams.”

Jessica also received a St. Olaf Music Recognition Scholarship. She and her brother, Alex, each won a drawing for a Fastweb Invite a Friend Sweepstakes Scholarship.

“I feel honored to be the recipient of the EOA Board of Directors Scholarship. When I applied, I didn’t think that I would be selected, and I was very surprised when I received the notification right before I transferred to St. Olaf.

“Thank you very much, EOA Board of Directors, for selecting me to receive this scholarship. It means so much more to me than just being able to afford tuition; it’s allowing me to continue following my dreams.”

Jessica Neppl, Inver Hills Alumna and St. Olaf College Freshman

More about Jessica…

Jessica hasn’t settled on her major at St. Olaf College, but she’s leaning toward Psychology or Sociology/Anthropology. She will be working while attending St. Olaf and has already started her new job in acquisitions and resource management at Rølvaag Memorial Library on campus.

“I haven’t made up my mind about my future career,” Jessica said. “I do know I would like a job where I will be helping people. Becoming a clinical psychologist is something I’m considering.”

An accomplished musician, Jessica began playing clarinet in 5th grade. She took up bass clarinet in middle school and last summer performed with River City Rhythm Drum and Bugle Corps.

“My boyfriend, Ben Carter, played tuba with RCR for three seasons and he talked me into auditioning,” Jessica said. “Ben is a music major at St. Olaf and lives on campus in Mellby Hall. He plans to audition with the Bluecoats next year and hopes to get a contract. I’m planning on auditioning with RCR again.”

Because she loves playing clarinet, Jessica is elated that St. Olaf ranks as one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges for music. She recently began playing contrabass clarinet and has been accepted by the St. Olaf Band, which was founded in 1841 and is considered one of the preeminent bands in the country.

Jessica prepared for her St. Olaf Band audition by taking private lessons from Paul Schulz, a clarinetist with Minnesota Sinfonia and a University of St. Thomas music professor. She is currently studying with Nina Olsen, an adjunct assistant professor of music at St. Olaf.

“I am very excited about playing with the St. Olaf Band,” said Jessica, who practices four or more days a week in the Christiansen Hall of Music on campus. “We will be going on tour in mid-October.”

Jessica Neppl gallery

“Jessica Neppl is a great example of an Inver Hills TRIO student. Jessica chose Inver Hills for the value of the education and the opportunity to take a variety of courses and learn more about what she wanted out of her education.

“While she was here, Jessica embraced all the opportunities our college has to offer, both in and outside the classroom. Through these experiences, she decided on the next steps on her academic path and found financial support for her continued education as well.

“Jessica’s thoughtfulness, energy and resourcefulness will take her wherever she wants to go.”

Matt Kruger, TRIO SSS Director, Inver Hills Community College

Jessica Neppl Q & A

Jessica Neppl
Jessica Neppl

What was your most memorable experience at Inver Hills?
My most memorable experience was walking off Inver Hills’ campus for the last time before coming to St. Olaf. It was just a brief few seconds where I reflected on my three semesters at Inver Hills and how far I had come from where I had started.

What did you like best about TRIO SSS?
I really liked the people who are involved in TRIO SSS. My advisor was amazingly helpful, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without their guidance. The other TRIO advisors are incredibly nice, and they welcomed me into their office every time I visited. The students involved in TRIO SSS are also really nice people, and I enjoyed hanging out with them.

What would you tell students who are considering joining TRIO SSS?
Definitely apply! TRIO SSS at Inver Hills is incredibly helpful if you don’t really know what direction you want to take while you’re in college. Plus the advisors are fantastic, and the students in the program are fun to hang out with! Apply even if you think you may not use all of the services they have to offer. I ended up utilizing their resources more than I thought I would!

Why did you choose your future career field?
I don’t have a future career field right now, but I’ll get there! I’m trying to take things one step at a time and right now I’m focusing on figuring out what I want to major in. I would, however, like my future career field to be something where I am able to help people, learn new things and grow as a person.

Three words that describe you as a college student:

What has been your toughest challenge in life?
My toughest challenge in life has been figuring out who I am and what my values are. It takes a long time and lots of experience to figure out what really makes up who you are and why. Throughout my life, I have often doubted who I am—and I feel like now I’m finally making some progress toward discovering what I value most.

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly), a lot of the things that make up my values are things that I have known all along. I’m now discovering new ways to practice what I value in my day-to-day life, and it’s an incredibly satisfying feeling. I still have a long way to go in terms of really finding myself, but looking at the road behind me and how far I’ve come gives me confidence while I look toward the future.

What is your greatest accomplishment?
I would have to say that my greatest accomplishment was marching my first season with River City Rhythm Drum and Bugle Corps. I spent three months over the summer touring around the Midwest, staying in middle school gyms, and practicing for 12 hours a day outside. It was an extremely physically and mentally demanding experience. Blood, sweat and tears were definitely shed.

I look back at my summer with RCR as a positive experience, though, and I’m very excited to audition again. While I was with the Corps I learned a lot about my personal limits and how to get over mental walls. Overcoming those walls on a daily basis and continually raising my standards taught me how much can be accomplished when you set your mind to something and stick to it despite numerous reasons to quit.

What person has influenced you the most in life?
The people who have influenced me the most in my life are my parents (I couldn’t pick just one). My mom and dad work extremely hard to provide for my brother and me—and I couldn’t be more grateful. The hard work and dedication that they put into everything they do is inspirational. My dad works two jobs and is always picking up extra shifts when he can. He is a highway helper, a volunteer firefighter and a certified EMT. He does his best work when he is helping other people or staying calm during a stressful situation.

My mom works with Deaf and hard of hearing students and genuinely enjoys working with them every day to help make their lives easier. Growing up watching my parents manage my brother’s medical problems and still keeping a bright outlook on life is also something I think about when I feel like I’m in a rough spot. I can’t thank my parents enough for everything that they have done, and I hope I am able to give back to them in some way as I get older.

Family and pastimes…

Jessica at St. Olaf
Jessica at St. Olaf

Jessica’s dad, Randal, is a volunteer firefighter and highway helper. Randal enjoys cooking and playing fantasy football. Jessica’s mom, Anne, is a Cued Language Transliterator, Deaf Blind Intervener and Captionist. Anne enjoys keeping plants and refining her job skills, which include ASL, Cued Language and captioning. Jessica’s brother, Alex, is a junior in high school. Alex enjoys playing chess, learning new facts and going to school.

Jessica’s dog, Kona, is a golden retriever who enjoys napping on her pillow, going for long walks and chasing after her ball. Jessica’s betta fish, aka Siamese fighting fish, is named Finn. He likes to swim in his tank in Jessica’s St. Olaf dorm room.

“Betta fish are an aggressive species,” Jessica pointed out, “so he also likes to flare his fins at anyone who dares to get too close.”

When she’s not studying, practicing clarinet or working at Rølvaag Memorial Library, Jessica enjoys playing videogames, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. She also likes fantasy novels and movies—she’s a fan of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings and Eragon. She is proud to report that she built her own computer as a junior in high school. One of her favorite pastimes is going for walks and being outdoors.

More about TRIO Student Support Services…

TRIO Student Support Services at Inver Hills Community College provides services to low-income students, first-generation college students, and disabled students enrolled in postsecondary education programs. Eligible students may receive (among other services) personal and academic career counseling, career guidance, instruction, mentoring and tutoring.

The goal of TRIO SSS is to increase the college retention and graduation rates of program participants and help students make the transition from one level of higher education to the next.

Each year, TRIO SSS at Inver Hills selects 140 students to participate in the program. Students must be either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, enrolled in a degree program and taking a minimum of six credits. Students must also meet at least one of the following federal eligibility criteria:

  • First-generation college student (parent or guardian did not hold a bachelor’s degree while the student was in high school)
  • Meet federal income guidelines
  • Be eligible to receive accommodations through Disability Services at Inver Hills.

Jessica Neppl | 21 Answers


  1. Favorite season: Summer
  2. jessica_12Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Oceans…especially the Pacific off Oahu
  3. Favorite sport or physical activity: Drum corps
  4. Your national bird if you could have one: Barn owl
  5. Place you would most like to visit: New Zealand
  6. Favorite holiday: Halloween
  7. Your national mammal if you could have one: Spotted seal
  8. Favorite actor or actress: Benedict Cumberbatch
  9. Favorite band or performing artist: John Williams
  10. jessica_13Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Go with your interests and you’ll eventually find your passion.”
  11. Coolest thing in the world: Helping other people
  12. Scariest thing in the world: Mannequins
  13. Favorite all-time TV show: How I Met Your Mother
  14. Favorite all-time movie: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  15. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: To find a career that I love
  16. Most valuable material possession: My custom-built computer
  17. First thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: Probably a Cane’s box combo
  18. jessica_11Dream occupation: Marine biologist
  19. Person you would most like to meet: My future self…when I’m in my 60s
  20. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Cooking pasta
  21. Humankind’s greatest challenge: Hearing what other people have to say and considering different viewpoints
Learn more about TRIO Student Support Services at Inver Hills by contacting:

Matt Kruger
TRIO Student Support Services Director
Travelers EDGE Director

Alicia Atwater
TRIO Student Support Services Advisor

Carolyn Vue
TRIO Student Support Services Advisor
Travelers EDGE Advisor

Learn more about earning an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree at Inver Hills by contacting:

Admissions Team
College Center


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