There aren’t many who – in one day – debate the latest methods of elementary education in a college classroom, apply and sell expensive cosmetics at the mall and then take votes on important City ordinances late into the night.
However, it’s a balancing act that City Councillor Jessica Giannino, 22, has been carrying out for the last four years, having recently graduated from Salem State University, slowing down this month just enough to catch her breath.
While the youngest councillor ever to be elected has been a marvel to watch in terms of the quick upward rise of her political career, most – aside from her family and boyfriend – have not been privy to the schedule she has kept.
That schedule, the soon to be 23-year-old said, has been going on since high school when she attended classes, played golf, participated in numerous activities and worked at the Law Offices of D’Ambrosio and Brown. She even at one time appeared on an MTV Reality show.
Now, she said it’s time to slow down – and perhaps reposition her life, as her political career has taken on a dimension she never anticipated.
“I love my job and I love being on the Council,” she said. “I loved going to school, but doing it all at once was a lot. I need a year off. I’ve never had a chance to breath since I was 14. You had to just really be prepared – just little things sometimes. I had to be sure I was wearing something to work that I could also wear to school and that would also be acceptable for the City Council on Council nights. So, you have to really think ahead and sometimes things overlap. Once, on Halloween, I did makeup for someone that looked like a skull. Later, I still had some of that on at school and then at City Hall. I went from work to Salem State to City Hall wearing Halloween makeup.”
The strict schedule didn’t even let up for an election, she said.
“On both of my Election Days I went to school, got out of class around noon and then went to work the polls,” she said. “May family was supportive of me. There were times when my grandmother and my father held signs for me while I was in class or at work. It was a family effort.”
Perhaps the biggest change for Giannino, and those who have followed her political career, is the recent change of plans – saying that instead of teaching she would like to explore going to law school and see where her political path also goes.
For years, Giannino was dead set on teaching at Revere High School (RHS) – her alma mater – and she did major in English and minored in Educational Studies. The only thing she lacks is her student teaching hours to be ready to hit the teaching ranks, but she said it isn’t for her right now.
Her political career has always been an enigma, as she has become very popular and topped the ticket the last time out – nearly beating her closest colleague by 1,000 votes. Even so, at the time she said she still planned to be a teacher. Many wondered if she would just abandon her political career to pursue her dream as a teacher.
Now, even Giannino said she has to pause to see what is going to happen before committing to the classroom.
“At this point in my life, being a high school teacher isn’t the path my life is going in,” she said. “We have an election year coming up and politics is something I am paying attention to. I just need a year off to see where I am going. There’s a huge possibility I’ll go to law school, but I need to take the year off to see where I might go, to take the entrance exams and to figure out for myself what I’d like to do…I still want to teach some day, but right now I feel that in other parts of my life there are things I’d like to explore before I teach.”
She said she would like to enroll in law school – if that’s the direction she goes – by September 2015.
Of course that brings up the meatiest question and it revolves around whether or not she has aspirations for the corner office – a run for mayor – or even for state office.
While saying that the “sky’s the limit” due to her age and early experience, Giannino balked at making any announcements at whether or not she intends to seek a mayoral run or a state legislative run. Right now, she said, all of that is way too preliminary.
That could quite likely be because the whole political career she’s carved out is a surprise to everyone – herself included.
When she first ran in 2011, many believed that it was after a great deal of consulting with her best friend and confidant – her grandmother Joanne – and her father, Police Officer Chris Giannino. The family has long been active in the city both politically and professionally. So, a Giannino family run was certainly not out of left field.
However, none of that was the case, Giannino said.
Her decision was spur of the moment and a surprise to her whole family and, once things got rolling, to her.
“My family was more surprised than anyone,” she said. “It was something I just decided to do. I had been involved in student government at Salem State and it made sense for someone interested in politics to make the jump to real politics. So, I woke up and told my grandmother I was going to City Hall to pull papers. She thought I had a parking ticket I needed to pay. I told here that I was pulling papers for City Council. They couldn’t believe it. After that, there was no time to be shocked. We just went out and did it. I think everyone was surprised when I ran, and I’m even surprised at where it’s gone.”
In addition to earning her degree from Salem State, Giannino was the president of the Student Commuter Association and active in the Student Government Association – frequently advocating on Beacon Hill for more funding for state universities.
She commuted to school her entire four years, living at home with her grandfather, Christie, her grandmother Joanne and her father, Chris.
And therein lies the kicker to the whole story, as she said, “I’m completely debt free from college. I owe nothing.”
Yet another remarkable achievement.