ThesisCrazy!!!: Jessica Gay

Next up in our celebration of senior theses: Jessica Gay! Read more about her thesis on the environmental gentrification of Texas cities after the jump.


Jessica Gay ‘20 is a Biology and E&ES Major and Art History Minor. Her thesis is in E&ES. Her carrel number is 428


Where she is now:

“I’m in my hometown, which is San Antonio, Texas.”


Working title:

“Okay so it’s a long one. It’s ‘Critical Examinations of Sustainability in San Antonio and Austin: An Exploration of Environmental Gentrification in Two Texas Cities.”


On her topic:

“I am looking at the process of environmental gentrification in the cities of San Antonio and Austin. Basically environmental gentrification is this sort of process by which sustainably minded projects like parks or green certified buildings are capable of perpetuation gentrification because they usually increase wealthier residents to an area and increase land values.”


On how she thought of the topic:

“So I took a class with the professor who is my current thesis advisor, Joseph Siri, in Spring 2019 called Architecture of the 20th Century. In one of the papers I wrote about the San Antonio Riverwalk, and I when I was doing my research I came across the topic of environmental gentrification, and I got really really interested in it, and so that paper was sort of the starting point of what is now my thesis.” 


On her progress:

“Right now I am working on my conclusion chapter, trying to finish that up, and then just like editing any existing things, adding some bulk to my existing chapters. It’s been a journey, it’s a little harder now that I’m not actually on campus. I’ve been kind of struggling to finish my conclusion chapter.”


On how Coronavirus has affected her thesis:

“It’s been a lot more difficult to be motivated. Especially because I’m the kind of person who needs a particular setting to work really well. I can’t work in my room, that’s out of the question, so now I’m just trying to work at the kitchen table, and it’s really hard with all these distractions going on.”


On her current mental state:

“It sort of varies all the time. Up and down, sort of. I’ve been trying to stay positive, but y’know… it gets hard sometimes. I’ve been mainly trying to distract myself from my mental state. It’s been okay, that’s about as good as it can be right now. Well, it could probably be better, but it’s been worse so at least there’s that.”


On her most upsetting thesis experience:

“Oh gosh. Beyond the whole Coronavirus thing, because that was pretty upsetting, I sort of hit a block during winter break because I had been planning on finishing everything up during winter break, and then I hardly did a single thing. That was really upsetting for me personally because I thought I was going to accomplish all of this stuff during like the 6 week period that we had. I sort of pushed it off, being like ‘alright I’ll do it during spring break’ but then Coronavirus happened, so I had some other things to worry about then. So progress has been pushed on the back burner many a time.”


On her favorite form of procrastination:

“As of right now it is playing Animal Crossing New Horizons. It’s been consuming my life, it’s kind of ridiculous. I’m just like ‘oh, I’m gonna check in on this’ and the whole real time aspect really gets you, so I have to check in the morning, afternoon, night, I have a fishing tourney going on right now. That’s been taking up a lot more time than it should be but it’s fun, it’s good for my mental state.”


Plans for after she turns her thesis in:

“Gosh, probably like sleep for the whole day? I don’t know, it’s so different now that I don’t have the steps. And I don’t really drink because I have really bad Asian glow so… Yeah, I don’t know. I’ll probably Zoom my friends, my fellow thesis writers and we’ll have a little celebration on Zoom.”


Her advice for future thesis writers:

“Pick a topic well before you actually start. It really helped me knowing what I was going to write about. And then make an outline, I would say. Of course it’s subject to change all the time, but it really helps. And if there’s any opportunity to do a presentation about your thesis, I would say go for it. Because Joseph Siri is in the Art History department, I’ve had to do a few presentations for them, and that has really really helped me. Talking about it and explaining it to other people really helps you get a firm grasp of what you’re researching and talking about. And get feedback from other people outside your thesis advisor.”


On her favorite part of her thesis:

“I would say my chapter about San Antonio. I have such a personal connection with it and it’s been really cool to learn all these things about this city that I’ve lived in my whole life. I was born and raised here, and there’s just so many complicated parts to it. Learning about the history has been really cool.”


If her thesis was a song/TV show/movie:

“Oh Jesus… That’s a hard one! It’s a pretty niche topic… maybe Parks and Rec! That fits into the mold.”


Her most used word/phrase:

“‘Gentrification.’ For sure. Because there’s just no other way to describe that process.”


A question she wished we asked:

“Any questions about my advisor? I love Joseph Siri. I could talk about him all day. I absolutely adore him.”


Theses Feces:

“Since I got home, they haven’t been the greatest, but back when I was at Wes, that third floor bathroom. It saw some things.”


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