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LIU Brooklyn Valedictorian Sienna Jeffries Has a Story to Tell

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Sienna Jeffries thought she knew what to expect.

The valedictorian of LIU Brooklyn’s Class of 2017 had seen her fair share of commencements at the Barclays Center, filming the proceedings for LIU TV. She’d watched the classes ahead of her march into the arena, heard the speeches from the honorary degree recipients and the valedictorians who came before here, seen the confetti fall from the ceiling at the end of the ceremony, and been in the midst of graduates and their families at the post-commencement barbecue on campus. 

But the experience itself turned out to be a lot different.

“We dream of graduation,” Jeffries said, “and how it’s going to feel, but what it is in our dreams and what we talk about are nothing compared to how amazing and liberating it is when you’re actually there on that day, realizing that you went to such a wonderful University, and that you’ll be getting such a prestigious degree.”

As she walked into the Barclays Center with her classmates, she found multiple emotions welling up insider her.

“It was a combination of awe, shock, excitement, and gratitude,” Jeffries said. “I felt blessed to be up there and grateful, because it could have been anybody, and I was so lucky that I was able to address the class and give a motivational speech that will help them in their next journey in life.”

Despite the emotion of the moment, when the time came, Jeffries knew exactly how to deliver her message in her valedictory address, as you would expect from someone graduating with a double major in marketing and journalism.

“I’ve always been a storyteller,” Jeffries said. “I’ve always loved to tell stories, and I’ve always told them on a small scale. When I got to LIU, I wanted to continue my storytelling on a global basis; LIU is filled with such diversity, and I was able to meet so many different types of people from many different socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures. I knew that I wanted to continue to pursue journalism and broaden my horizons with it.

“I always wanted to do that in my life: give a voice to someone who doesn’t have one and let them express themselves in the way that they need to, in a way that can better the world and help people better understand each other. “

Jeffries’ interest in advocating for those without a voice also led her to pursue what she thought would be a minor in business, in preparation for future plans to found a non-profit organization.

“I wanted some background experience,” Jeffries said. “But, once I got into the business program, I was falling in love with it, especially with regards to marketing, and I knew that for me, marketing was another way to tell a story. It’s more than just a commercial or a promo; you can find a way to connect to consumers in a personal way, and also show a brand’s personality.”

As she excelled in the classroom, Jeffries continued to build her own brand. She worked for LIU TV and reported for the Seawanhaka, interned at NY1 and CareConnect, and continued to pursue acting and modeling, all while continuing to shine in the classroom.

“Because I made sure to stay focused in the classroom,” Jeffries said, “my professors were very lenient. As long as I made up the work, and made it up on time, and it was ‘A-quality’ work, my professors were very supportive.”

As she sets out on her career, Jeffries is as busy as ever. A week after commencement, Jeffries found herself weighing multiple job offers, preparing to film a role on Amazon’s series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and preparing to launch her music career with the debut of her EP, Noize, all while continuing to audition for film and TV roles.

“In life,” Jeffries said, “if you want to achieve a lot, you have to do a lot. It’s a combination of prioritizing, being optimistic, staying calm, being organized, and having that support system around you consistently.”

If there’s one thing that Sienna Jeffries has shown in her time at LIU, it’s that she knows how to “do a lot.”

Posted 06/05/2017

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