As a high school student, Jenna Barry enjoyed working in hospitals. At 16 years old she watched surgeons perform a live open-heart surgery. She’s not your average girl.
In a high school competition Jenna interviewed the mother of a 22-year-old man who died but his organs went to save the lives of 51 people. She was so touched by the story; she realized that everyone had a different and unique story to be told. And she wants to listen!
After following the “Humans of New York” blog Jenna became inspired. “I just loved the idea that he had that he would just walk up to random individuals and have a conversation with them,” Jenna said. “You never know what someone’s going through and everyone is looking for someone that will listen.”
As a freshman starting out at Towson University Jenna started the Humans of TU Instagram and Facebook accounts. The Instagram alone has over 1900 followers.
“I’m really interested in what people have to say and every story I come across becomes a piece of me and how I view life everyday.” Jenna said.
Jenna has not had a storybook upbringing, but then again who has?
The difference from Jenna and us is that Jenna wants to know how everyone else’s upbringing was, what’s currently going on in their life, and how they feel about it.
She is a student truly interested in people.
As Millennials, we know what it’s like to pretend to be on your phones just so we don’t have to talk to people, and we look down when we walk past someone so we don’t have to make eye contact.
Jenna walks up to random students daily outside of the library and in Freedom Square. She knows everyone has a good story and not only wants to hear it but wants to tell the thousands of other Towson students about it.
She also prefers to do interviews herself, she works with two students who excel in photography skills that interview some people with their cameras but as she says, she’s very picky about interviews and wants to create a personal space for those who she interviews and really make a connection with that person.
“The ability to speak to total strangers in order to share what are personal stories is a skill rarely possessed!” Graduate, Josh Hutchinson says about Jenna. Although Josh is back home in England now he still follows Humans of TU. “I see it everyday from 4000 miles away and despite rarely knowing the person featured, it brightens my day to see Jenna’s work.”
Jenna has put her email out on both social media accounts and allows anyone to email her to request a spot on humans of TU. She said she does get more emails a day than your average student but contrary to belief, she does read every single one.
“With doing humans of TU I have met athletes and I have met business majors, people that are outside of what I know so it’s a lot different and meeting different people like that helps change your mindset.” Jenna said.
For Jenna it’s more about making a name for everybody else rather than herself so she normally doesn’t post any pictures of herself or link her personal accounts to her Humans of TU ones.
The 16-year-old girl watching open-heart surgery two years ago could not imagine herself today, now looking into the hearts of students at Towson University while listening to their most personal stories.