Couples across campus: Sean & Jessica

Ariana Beedie

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At USI, Latin and French – commonly known as romance languages – are actually taught by a married couple.

In Fall 2012,  Jessica and Sean Jensen joined USI’s force of married couples who work together on campus. Working together is a first for them.

“We were both on the academic job market, which is a very hard market,” Sean said. “When she got the job offer (at USI), we jumped at the chance.”

The couple’s offices are just a few doors down from each other’s, which is similar to how they met at Brown University in 1998 as freshmen undergraduates.

“We lived in the same dorm and had a common circle of friends,” Jessica said. “The first thing I remember thinking about him was that he had an exceptional sense of humor and that I really enjoyed spending time with him discussing history and politics.

“Our story isn’t an overly dramatic love story that will inspire a screenplay, but it’s ours.”

Because Sean was a kicker for Brown, it was difficult to find time to spend with Jessica.

“Once the season was near its end, I had more time to get to know her,” he said.

Sean proposed after the two graduated and they “happily headed off to Philadelphia.” Jessica began her graduate program studying French at the University of Pennsylvania while Sean entered the “classics” program at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

The couple each got a chance to travel abroad during their graduate studies, Jessica said.

After going abroad several times previously, the couple received funding to go to Europe once more for their dissertations.

“I went to France while he studied in Greece,” she said.

“The distance was worse for her than it was for me,” Sean said. “I had colleagues at the university in Athens, but she was in Paris by herself.”

The Jensens married in July 2007 at Jessica’s great uncle’s home by the ocean in Nahant, Mass., the same place where her parents married almost 30 years earlier.

“After our wedding we traveled around Europe with Sean’s family and some family friends,” Jessica said. “Later I spent a year in Paris conducting research, and Sean attended the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.”

After receiving their doctorates, they accepted positions apart from one another. Sean worked at Harvard University while Jessica worked at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Being apart wasn’t easy,” Jessica said. “But it gave us the opportunity to grow professionally and truly appreciate and enjoy the times we are together.”

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