0821_Jessup_Digital Edition - Page 15

SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL SECTION

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

by Jessica Laskey
BRANDON STEIGER
Principal , CMO / CTO , Grafik Major : Youth Ministry / Theology Current City : Philadelphia , PA
Brandon Steiger learned his most important life lesson from Jessup ’ s youth ministry chair Les Christie and professor Fritz Moga .
“ If you think about dealing with kids , they ’ re reeling with emotions , so you often can ’ t come to a canned solution ,” Steiger says . “ Les and Fritz showed me you have to think about where the kid is coming from , listen to them and really care about them to come up with a solution .”
Steiger uses the same methods as a strategist , technologist and developer . “ Oftentimes clients just want to know that they ’ re heard ,” he says . “ You have to figure out how to separate the issue from the person .”
Even as an undergraduate , Steiger knew he ’ d end up in tech . He helped build one of Jessup ’ s first websites and completed a thesis project in which he interviewed top-level tech execs connected to the school . Through that experience , he landed his first job and ended up working for major nonprofits and corporations before co-founding strategy firm 2120 Creative , which was acquired by Grafik last year .
He now manages three departments and works with clients like Lument , Modern Campus and the National Pork Producers Council . But no matter the client , he keeps Les and Fritz in mind . “ To solve a problem , you have to have the perseverance and tenacity to keep going after it ,” he says . “ You can ’ t give up .”
JJ HELLER
Singer-Songwriter Major : Music / Bible & Theology Current City : Nashville , TN
When JJ Heller transferred to Jessup ’ s San Jose campus halfway through her sophomore year , she still didn ’ t know what she wanted to be when she grew up . A longtime music lover , she decided to major in music and joined the vocal ensemble to get more comfortable onstage — and accidentally found her calling .
“ That experience made me realize how much I enjoyed singing and communicating to people through music ,” Heller says . “ I had no idea at the time that I ’ d be able to make a career out of being a singer-songwriter .”
Heller has now made music full time for 18 years and has 10 full-length albums , a Christmas EP and a children ’ s book to her name . Her songs have been featured on Christian radio stations nationwide and have been streamed over 210 million times .
In 2017 , Heller started releasing a new single on the first Friday of each month accompanied by heartwarming YouTube music videos . She and her husband Dave co-write the songs that feature heartfelt lyrics and stirring melodies .
“ Dave was going to San Jose State down the street when we first started dating , but he ended up spending so much time ( at Jessup ) that everyone thought he was a student ,” Heller recalls . “ Dave was drawn to the atmosphere — Jessup felt very nurturing musically , personally and academically . It felt like a family .”
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