Skip to main content

Take 10 with a Triton: Jessica Valencia Advocates for Survivors and One-on-One Connection

Note: this article mentions sexual assault and domestic violence.

Woman smiles at camera
Jessica Valencia

Published Date

Article Content

Name: Jessica Valencia 

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Position: Training and Education Specialist at the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC)

Years at UC San Diego: Valencia joined Campus Advocacy, Resources and Education at the Sexual Assault Resource Center (CARE at SARC)  in January 2022; she serves as one of two training and education specialists at the center. Before becoming part of the UC San Diego community, Valencia worked as a prevention and community engagement specialist at the Center for Community Solutions. She graduated from San Diego State University with a dual BA in women’s studies and Spanish along with a certificate in Spanish-English translation and interpretation.

What she does at UC San Diego: “I do a lot of education and outreach across campus around sexual violence prevention, how to navigate healthy relationships and how to support survivors,” Valencia explained. As the lead coordinator of CARE at SARC’s prevention and outreach efforts, she’s constantly communicating with various partners around campus to organize workshops and trainings. 

The biggest campaign Valencia leads? CARE at SARC’s efforts for Sexual Assault Awareness Month each April. Every April, the center hosts a variety of drop-in trainings, programming and workshops centered around understanding what sexual assault prevention can look like, how to identify dynamics of sexual assault and relationship violence and how and where survivors can access support and resources. 

“We usually partner with other offices and organizations around campus like the Women’s Center, the Center for Student Involvement and even Greek life,” Valencia said, noting that the center runs similar campaigns in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month and January for Stalking Awareness Month. “I also help coordinate our quarterly programming and make sure we’re active on social media — online, we do some event flyering and a lot of passive education on the topics we cover.”

CARE at SARC offers workshops and training for staff, students and faculty alike. Students learn about ways to recognize a healthy versus an unhealthy relationship, navigate conflict resolution, consent and boundaries, deal with peer pressure, and find and utilize support on campus. The center also offers professional training through the UC Learning Center focused on supporting student survivors and addressing workplace harassment.

What she loves about UC San Diego: Valencia couldn’t pick just one thing she loved about UC San Diego — both the people and the campus have been simply too impactful to choose one over the other. 

“I’ve met so many folks who really love what they do here and love working with students, staff and faculty across campus,” Valencia said. “That was very shocking to me, having never worked in higher education before — it’s so warm and welcoming here, especially at CARE at SARC.”

Plus, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more picturesque place to work than our campus in sunny San Diego. 

“It’s such a beautiful place to go on walks and spend time outdoors,” Valencia added, noting that campus always appears very well-kept. “There’s this tangible sense of teamwork around making sure the university is kept clean and beautiful — I love being able to look around and just be amazed by everyone’s efforts.”

Best advice received: “Meeting folks on a one-on-one basis and finding those opportunities for human connections is so important,” Valencia said, mentioning that the directorial team at CARE at SARC emphasizes relationship-building at the center. “Often, we’re so caught up in how busy and fast-paced the quarter system is that interacting with people on a one-on-one basis can fall through the cracks. Prioritizing meaningful, deep connections with staff and students has been so impactful, and it’s wonderful getting to know people, learning what drives them and why they do what they do on such a diverse campus.”

Staff at the SARC pose together
The 2024 CARE at SARC team

Something unique about her workplace: Though Valencia works remotely a few days a week, her office at CARE at SARC reflects her commitment to the center’s work. 

Sexual Assault Awareness Month programming in 2022 included providing crafting kits for the campus community to participate in Denim Day, an annual international event devoted to combatting victim blaming and education about sexual violence. Valencia used one of the crafting kits herself, even though she forgot to bring denim to use in the project and used paper instead. The project now hangs on her wall.

“It reminds me of my first year with the center and of the important work we’re doing,” Valencia said. “We’re connecting survivors to support and making it [support] tangible and accessible.”

Art piece made by Valencia that has feathers tied to a branch
Craft project Valencia made for a SAAM campaign in 2022

Favorite spot on campus: Valencia’s favorite spot on campus is shared by many other Take 10 profilees and students alike: the garden in the old student center near the Art of Espresso coffee cart and the campus graffiti park. She enjoys relaxing on one of the benches tucked between the vegetable planters, explaining that “you get the art on one side and the smell of coffee on the other. When it’s a sunny day, it’s such a great place to take a breather!”

Something most people don’t know about her: Valencia herself was the first to say that she’s not always the most open about sharing things, though she emphasized that this was a work in progress. Still, one thing stood out that she wanted to share: Valencia is an avid runner.

“I’ve been running competitively for a really long time; I’ve run three full marathons and competed in over 20 races,” she noted. Last year, part of her goal for the year was to compete more, so she ran in six or seven races compared to her usual three races per year. “I often don’t talk about it, but running is one of my favorite self-care strategies and ways to unplug. I get to focus on my body and my breathing, and just go — it’s a huge sense of safety and comfort for me, and it feels good to be doing that.”

Valencia poses with a sign in Spanish
Valencia at the 2022 Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon

If she had one thing to do anything she wanted: Valencia had two ideal days: one in a world where money nor consequences were no issue, and one more realistic day. 

“In a fantasy world, I’d love an all-day, all-you-can-eat buffet by the ocean with all my favorite foods,” Valencia said with a laugh. “I could just eat anything and everything I wanted without worrying about getting full or having an upset stomach.” 

Unfortunately, Valencia acknowledged, that day is unlikely to come to fruition. She instead tries to capture and live out her other ideal day as often as she can. 

“I live right next to a lot of parks, so I’d love to spend my day walking around the parks and being in nature. I’d probably head to Hillcrest or North Park for brunch, then go to the beach with a book and some snacks before heading home to cook a really yummy dinner and relax.”

Category navigation with Social links