Though Jesze Doleh admits to wanting to be the Jane Goodall of lemurs, her favorite animal, she has settled with the more realistic goal of pursuing her dream of becoming a zoo director. A first year in the Environment and Natural Resources Scholars Program, Jesze has had a fascination with the environment and zoological operations since she was young. In fact, in her formative years, she was often dubbed a "tree hugger."
Originally from Evansville, Indiana, Jesze volunteered at Mesker Park Zoo as well as her area Botanical Gardens for five years prior to her admittance to OSU. Getting her start as a zoo camper, her love for all things nature soon gave way to leadership roles within zoos. She rose from a camper to a Zooteen to a camp instructor at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, a position she holds currently. In her new position, she helps put on educational programs to groups who then spend the night at the Zoo accompanied by Jesze and her co-workers. This position helps to combine both Jesze's major of Zoology and her minor in Education, both of which she hopes to complete within three years.
Coming from out-of-state, it may have seemed slightly daunting to pursue involvement at the Columbus Zoo, especially as it is located 25 minutes from campus and Jesze has no car. Luckily, she had a family friend who had a connection in the Zoo's education department. Jesze was able to visit the Zoo while on a trip to OSU last spring and was notified of a job offering when she was back on campus in June for orientation. This position has grown Jesze's appreciation for the opportunity to educate others on animals as well as the importance of conservation. Her advice to other students looking to pursue a path similar to hers is to simply start volunteering. Even if their passion is not with animals and nature, she stands by this advice, saying, "I think as long as you are passionate and other people can sense that, a zoo or similar place will find a place for you to help."
On top of her involvement in Scholars and her job with the zoo, Jesze is also an active member in Zoology Club as well as being a 96 Elephants Ambassador. Her experiences do not stop there nor do they stop anywhere in America, as she is a People to People Student Ambassador, which has enabled her to visit Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, South Africa, and France. In fact, when deciding where to attend college, Jesze wanted not only a premier zoology program and nearby zoo, but she also wanted a university at which she could continue to study French. Ohio State presented Jesze with all of these benefits and ultimately won out against its competitors.
Besides lemurs and spending her time at the zoo, Jesze enjoys traveling, watching movies and reading books. She loves comedy, including the movie Bruce Almighty and her favorite TV show, How I Met Your Mother. There is not anything funny about her ambitions though, as this zoology major intends to finish her undergraduate degree in three years, a good plan since her future professional agenda is quite packed already. While the decision to enter graduate school or begin working is still unclear, Jesze knows for certain that she wants to write programs for a zoo or a conservation center.
Her ultimate goal of becoming the director of a zoo is still a ways off as this position requires five years of experience at a zoo, as well as a master's degree, both of which will take some time to complete because she wants to visit Madagascar at some point to study, what else, her favorite animal: the lemur.
By Colleen Matthews, H&S Student Staff Writer