Jessica Morales is a sophomore fencer at Brandeis University with dual citizenship from the U.S. and Colombia. The biology major was named an honorable mention All-America selection by the United States Fencing Coaches Association in the sabre in her rookie season. Morales, a five-time UAA Fencer of the Week, earned a bronze medal at the Junior Pan Am Games in February, upsetting a top-ranked junior sabre fencer in the world.
The UAA “Conversations About Race and Racism” series seeks to lift the voices of people of color and recognize the challenges faced in both athletics and academics at the collegiate level. By sharing personal stories, we hope to elevate the conversation about race to raise awareness and bring about change.
“Whenever I tell people who know me that I fence for Colombia and have dual citizenship, they always ask when I became a citizen of the United States in spite of the fact that they know I have lived my whole life in Massachusetts,” Morales described. “Even when I say I am a naturalized U.S. citizen, I have been asked by teachers, peers, and others how I managed to arrive in the U.S. Having to repeat that I was born here multiple times gets tiring.”
She began fencing at a young age under the tutelage of her father, Cesar, who owns his own fencing facility in West Roxbury and has previously worked as an assistant coach at Brandeis. “I wrote my college essay on how fencing has shaped me as a person. During one of my important competitions, I was fencing against a Bulgarian fencer. I knew she had better results than I did, but that did not stop my determination to win,” she stated. “I realized quickly that certain touches were not being credited to me. I knew that being a Hispanic fencer competing against a European would have its difficulties, but after that bout, I promised myself I would stand up against biases so that referees and fencers knew my name.”
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