"It’s something that I’m really excited about, and I'm passionate about. I'm going to work on this for however long it takes for me to get it done," she said. "These women are part of the Imperial Valley history, and I want them to be recognized for their work during the war years in the Valley."
Fernandez has a five-month window before graduate school to completely dedicate to the subject, which may later become her thesis.
She was inspired by Tom Brokaw’s book "The Greatest Generation" and her lifelong love of Valley history.
Fernandez began last month by first researching the Internet and has now moved on to exhibits, photos, old newspapers and documents at the Imperial Valley Pioneers Museum.
From there, she plans to visit all the Valley libraries and then go after her most valued resource, people.
"When you make a cake, you can’t make a cake without the eggs or flour. My main ingredient is finding women or family members who knew women who grew up in the Valley who told them about their experiences growing up in the war," she said.
She would like to look at family photos, journals or letters.
Fernandez said most books on women from that era focus on mothers or women working in factories. She wants to have a more comprehensive approach that includes not only adults but young girls and not just the home front work experience, but also the fun side of life during that time.
Different cultures will play their part in her research as well including Japanese, Hispanic and Swiss.
Fernandez's uncle as well as a former Cal State professor are advising her on the research and writing process.
"I love history, and I love the Imperial Valley. This is like my baby," she said. "I want to take care of this, and put a lot of effort into it."
Pioneers Museum Chief Executive Officer Lynn Housouer said Imperial Valley wartime women haven’t been researched or written about much.
"Women played there too, but talk about unsung heroes," she said. "It’s a unique perspective. History wise, there’s a lot of merit. If someone doesn’t gather that information and put it away for others, then we lose it."
Housouer said Fernandez faces a time challenge as well as challenges inherent with hunting and gathering historical information.
"Hopefully everybody comes forward with any story to tell," she said. "They have a lot of important stories to tell, it’s just getting them to tell us."
Those that would like to help with the project can contact Jessica Fernandez at 760-554-9486 or firstname.lastname@example.org. An Imperial Valley Women's World War II Experience Project page is being created as well.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or email@example.com