Jessica's Project: Addiction

October 24, 2018

Public Information Officer


St. Philip’s College announced today the medical projects all are welcome to observe during Season Eight of Jessica's Project activities that will allow hundreds of guests and students to give back while addressing local health issues, both from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the college’s Watson Fine Arts Center at 1801 Martin Luther King Drive.

  • The Fall 2018 Jessica's Project themed Addiction is Nov. 29
  • The Spring 2019 Jessica's Project themed Mental Illness is April 18

With the help of funding from a college Student Engagement Grant, Abi Jimi-Ajayi is both a first year liberal arts international student from Nigeria and a participant in the 2018-2019 season of Jessica’s Project. Jessica's Project will be part of her St. Philip’s College experience before she graduates from the college next fall. She joins fellow grant recipients Michelle Ochoa, Ouko Bilher, Judy Galvan, Dezaray Mora and Catherine Cantu on the 2018 Jessica’s Project team with very diverse agendas and motivations to serve, but one great commonality according to Dr. Solomon Nfor, organizer for the classroom series known as Jessica's Project

“They are learning leadership and fundraising skills for the 21st century,” said Nfor, adding, “Their goal is to raise $5,125 to help ship over $8,000 in donated books to help kids at school in Cameroon.”

“I needed the [grant] money and I have good grades---and I decided to apply for it, Jessica's Project,” Jimi-Ajayi said with a practical smile. “I saw one [of the programs] last spring. I actually applied for the Bowden Elementary School Reading Buddy program opportunity offered through the grant funding and I'd always wanted to work formally with Jessica's Project, and because of the project I signed up for Dr. Nfor's class. He had space for four students and I applied the day after I found out about the vacancy. We are in planning with specific roles to be assigned later,” she shared.

In preparation for the Nov. 29 medical program, two case studies struggling with addiction---Mandy Jo Myers and Brooke Farris---visited with students such as Jimi-Ajayi, Ochoa and Galvan in three classes Oct. 10, according to Nfor. A third case study---Kayleigh Flores, both a graduate student at UTSA and also a recovering addict---visited with students in support of their project on Oct. 11, and they are among the seven recovering addicts participating in the Nov. 29 program, Nfor explained.

“Mandy suffered from alcohol addiction but had experimented with drugs as well. Brooke suffered from drug addiction. Both are in recovery now for several years and living a normal life. Mandy and Brooke visited 52 students in two of our anatomy and physiology classes and 35 students in one of our nutrition classes,” Nfor said.

Following the project’s traditional pregnancy prevention awareness program in the summer of 2018, one highlight of the project’s 2018 season was an obesity prevention program contributed to by Melvin Williams, a former NFL player with the New Orleans Saints, and Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, bariatric surgeon of the TLC TV series My 600 Pound Life. While learning from the surgeon, students at the college presented him with their Jessica’s Project Civic Engagement Award of Excellence, for his work and contribution to health and wellness. In addition to several weeks of face-to-face, telephone and email case study communications among both obesity subjects and students last spring, that study required the largest subject recruiting campaign in the eight-year-old Jessica's Project series thus far, according to Nfor.

Education and outreach on both addiction and mental illness prevention and intervention are elements of the college's larger commitment to transforming socio-economic conditions for residents surrounding its main campus by improving education opportunities, according to Nfor. The community partners in the Nov. 29 Jessica's Project event are UT Health Center (Dr. Lisa Kilpela, Dr. Cindy McGeary and Dr. Donald McGeary), UT Health Center representatives from the Addiction Research, Treatment and Training (ARTT) Center of Excellence and the Center for Research to Advance Community Health (ReACH), and San Antonio State Hospital. The keynote speaker in the Jessica's Project Season Eight: Addiction Symposium is Dr. William Woods.

For details on attending or participating in the season of studies and community engagement, contact Nfor at 210-486-2754 or

About Jessica’s Project: Jessica's Project is an innovative eight-year-old series of semester classroom events that have engaged hundreds of St. Philip's College students and the faculty (from arts and sciences, health sciences and applied science and technology) with the community to address a health issue through an evidence-based program. With faculty sponsorship, students learn about the impact of nutrition on health as they raise awareness on campus and in their community. Past projects have addressed spina bifida, traumatic brain injury, cardiovascular health, obesity, celiac disease, gastroparesis, Crohn's disease and unplanned pregnancy prevention.