Jennifer Guerra


Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. She previously covered arts and culture for the station. Before joining Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.

Her stories and documentaries have won numerous regional and national awards (including Clarion, PRNDI and Edward R. Murrow awards) and her work has aired on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace and Studio 360.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Michigan and received her master's degree in broadcast journalism from Fordham University. When she's not on the radio, she and her husband are trying to keep up with their adorable and energetic toddler.

Ways To Connect

user Keoni Cabral / flickr

You couldn't turn on the TV or radio or surf the web this past week without hearing or reading about Pope Francis' visit to the United States. The Pope brought with him a sincere focus on poverty, income inequality and those living on the margins of society.

user Santa Catalina School / flickr

I am no stranger to uniforms. I went to Catholic school for 12 years, so from kindergarten through my senior year of high school I had to wear some iteration of white button-down shirt with plaid skirt, jumper or pants. And you know what? I actually liked it. It was so easy to get ready in the morning; no thought went into what I was wearing or whether I looked cool. So from a vanity standpoint and, let's face it, a laziness standpoint, the utilitarian function of the school uniform was a plus.

This story by The New Yorker's Jelani Cobb is great not only because it expertly chronicles the demise of what was once an academically excellent school in Queens, NY, but also because Cobb takes a deeper look at what really happens to a community when a school closes. Schools are so much more than just a place to learn. For many kids who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, school can also be a place to network; a place to help launch the students out of their current situations. Take the school away and what do you have left? One less opportunity for an at-risk youth to network their way out of poverty.

user John Patrick Robichaud / flickr

We've said it before, but it bears repeating: filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, or the FAFSA, can be a pain in the butt. But at this point, there's no way around it. If you're hoping to get some federal grants or financial aid to help offset the costs of college, then you're going to have to fill it out.

As my colleague Dustin Dwyer noted in a story he did earlier this year, even the U.S. Department of Education acknowledges there are serious problems with our country's financial aid system.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Brian Whiston is the new guy in town at the Michigan Department of Education, and it looks like he's got poverty on the brain. Whiston and the state Board of Ed early this week convened a group of folks from around the state to share their ideas for how to improve academic outcomes for all students, especially those in poverty.

user fdecomite / flickr

How did you land your first job? I'm not talking about the first job you got out of college, I'm talking about the first job where you earned a paycheck and then probably went out and immediately spent it on music and movie tickets.

In light of yesterday's State of Opportunity story, I thought it might be fun to share this New York Times article where former college freshmen give advice to incoming freshmen. The tips range from academic (where to find the best YouTube math and chemistry tutors), to personal hygiene (when you're stuck, take a shower), to study tips (always make an outline for a paper). What advice would you give to someone about to start college?

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

If you graduated high school in June and college doesn’t start until fall, probably homework is the last thing on your mind during summer. But for some recent high school graduates, the summer before college is filled with homework, study groups and workshops.

That's how Chelsie Thompson's summer is shaping up. Thompson is 18 years old and she insists everyone (including reporters) call her "Phancie." She’s from Melvindale, a small, working-class city just outside Detroit, and she's spending seven weeks of her summer on the campus of the University of Michigan, taking three college courses for credit and learning her way around the university. 

user miss_millions / flickr

If you're 17 and you commit a crime in Michigan, you are automatically sentenced as an adult. You can't even vote yet, and you're sentenced as an adult. There are only nine states that try 17-year olds as adults, and Michigan is one of them. According to The Marshall Project, there seems to be some momentum to "raise the age" of an adult from 17 to 18 in North Carolina, New York and Wisconsin.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

We use the "gap" metaphor a lot. The opportunity gap. The discipline gap. The achievement gap. Well, now we've got another one to add to the list: the adventure gap, where minorities, especially those in inner cities, are much less likely than their white peers to experience the outdoors – especially state and national parks.