Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10.“Adelphi is like family.” —Jessica Montgomery ’05
For Jessica Montgomery, Adelphi is a family tradition. The daughter of Bob Montgomery ’75, M.A. ’85, longtime coach of Adelphi’s men’s soccer team, Ms. Montgomery grew up, in a sense, on the Garden City campus. “When we were little we’d be in the bleachers cheering our dad on…we’d come to basketball games,” she said. “My sisters and I have been around Adelphi forever.”
When it came time to choose a college, however, Ms. Montgomery was hesitant about attending her home-away-from-home. “I wasn’t sure I’d get the real college experience if I went to school where my dad was…so close to home.” She chose Adelphi, and before the close of her first semester, there was no question in her mind that she was at the right place. “I lived on campus, worked in the athletic department—I absolutely loved it,” she said.
Her involvement at Adelphi continued to grow. By her sophomore year she had joined the women’s soccer team. She wrote for The Delphian, Adelphi’s student-run newspaper, and served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. A business major, she deepened her experience at the University working in Adelphi’s Office of Public Affairs during her last two years. “I got to know faculty and staff, people outside of my classes,” she said. “I felt like I had a really well-rounded experience.”
During her senior year, the Office of Public Affairs received an inquiry from Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy’s office as to whether the University had any graduating students or alumni interested in working in her office. Ms. Montgomery’s employers in public affairs recommended her. While she appreciated the opportunity, she was hesitant. “I felt like it was so outside of my area…I didn’t study political science or anything in that field,” she said.
“I initially looked at it like it would be good practice to go on an interview.” She received more than an interview—she was offered a job. Her senior year, she began working part-time in Congresswoman McCarthy’s district office. In May 2005 she graduated from Adelphi; less than a month later she began working full-time.
As a congressional aide, her primary responsibility was conducting casework for the Fourth Congressional District. “Any federal agency has congressional liaisons for people who live in that district,” explains Ms. Montgomery, who helped solve problems that constituents were having in the areas of education, military and veteran affairs. “We have people calling, coming in, emailing or faxing whatever issues they are having,” she said. During her three years in this position, she also added to her responsibility areas responding to concerns related to the postal service and labor issues as well.
Today Ms. Montgomery—who has been with Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy’s office for six years now—is working in community outreach. “On a day she is here it is meetings and events back to back, either in the office or traveling from site to site,” said Ms. Montgomery. “For example, one day I might accompany the congresswoman to Nassau University Medical Center for a tour of the facility’s new emergency room. This will be followed by a guided visit from the Environmental Protection Agency to two Superfund sites in Nassau County,” she said.
When Congresswoman McCarthy is in Washington, D.C., Ms. Montgomery represents her at different events. “All the schools in the district participate in Read Across America. Congresswoman McCarthy is always invited to read. If she is out of town, we will go read to the kids, talk to them about the congresswoman and what she does and answer their questions,” she said. “If there is a school board or community association meeting during the week, we will go on her behalf so we know what the problems are in the towns and villages she serves. That’s one of my favorite parts of the job,” she said. “Getting outside the office and meeting and talking to people.”
Throughout her career, Ms. Montgomery has sought opportunities to widen her experiences and broaden her knowledge. For Congresswoman McCarthy’s 2010 campaign, Ms. Montgomery took a leave from the congressional side to help the Congresswoman’s campaign manager. “That’s really different work. For two-and-a-half months leading up to the election, you’re working seven days a week. As you get closer and closer to Election Day, you can be in the office 12 hours a day. And the week of the election, you’re there non-stop.” While the work can be exhausting, Ms. Montgomery is energized by the fast pace. “I love the rush of the campaign,” she said.
“As a freshman at Adelphi, I couldn’t have told you I would be working on somebody’s campaign. I’m working somewhere I never thought I was going to be; doing things I never thought I’d do. I have no idea where I would be today if it wasn’t for Adelphi. I’m really grateful for the experience I had.”
She continues to stay connected to her alma mater, keeping in touch with Adelphi friends and staff and supporting today’s student-athletes by returning to campus for their games. In addition, she is actively involved in Adelphi’s Intercollegiate Breast Cancer Awareness Committee, which runs a fundraiser in the name of her mother Jennifer Montgomery, a breast cancer survivor.
“My mom and I have been involved in it since its inception in 2007,” she said. “We’ll pick up the raffles and T-shirts and help sell them. We come back to campus for the check presentation at the women’s basketball game and my mom sings the national anthem.” To date, $20,000 has been raised in her mother’s name, in support of the Adelphi New York Statewide Breast Cancer Awareness Hotline & Support Program.
Throughout the years Ms. Montgomery, who has been on Adelphi’s campus before she could even walk, has seen a lot of changes. “The new field and dorms…the Center for Recreation and Sports, the Performing Arts Center…everything that’s happened on campus is just beautiful. Walking around, looking at what the University has become—it makes you proud to be an alumna,” she said.