Jay helped register more than 700 of her peers to vote while in high school. Now she's working with a high school in Philadelphia while attending UPenn. Read more about Jay here.
Jay is from Alexandria, Virginia - a beautiful small city outside of Washington DC. She is now a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia studying Economics and Urban Studies. Jay went above and beyond during high school to have a voice in her local community and to make sure her peers understood the power in their voices. Watch her speak on CNN News talking about her leadership with Students Demand Action in Northern, VA. She’s continuing similar work on UPenn’s campus and with Inspire in PA. She’s involved with Penn Dems, Wharton Public Policy Initiative Student Group, March For Our Lives Penn, and Penn Leads the Vote.
Before heading to Philadelphia, Jay was involved with the Inspire Virginia program for 3 years since she was a sophomore. Over the three years, she and her fellow Inspired Leaders registered about 700 of their peers to vote T.C. Williams High School, one of the largest high schools in Virginia.
Now that she is living in Philadelphia for college, she has been working with Philadelphia staff and has pioneered an initiative with Inspire to help expand and strengthen its alumni network. Jay ‘adopted a high school’ in the area to help Inspired Leaders register students to vote. Jay is guiding local students in their voter registration and engagement efforts so they don’t go through as many growing pains trying to figure out the best approach for peer-led voter registration as she did in high school. Her hope is to pass on some knowledge and skills to students and help them earn the PA Governor’s Civic Engagement award by registering at least 65% of their senior class to vote. The PA Governor’s award was modeled off the Virginia Governor’s Award so Jay feels at home with her adopted PA school.
“My favorite part of the Inspire program was trying something and then reflecting on how well it went and then tweaking it or changing it completely the next year to do a better job. Because of this, the first two years we did a giant assembly for the whole senior class and got ~100 students and then ~200 the next year. My final year in the program we switched to classroom presentations and got more than 400 students registered and pledged to vote!” From experiences like Jay’s, Inspire U.S. trains and prepares all students and teachers to try presentations in the classroom first. Have a captive audience and using peer to peer interaction are key in making voter registration and engagement meaningful!
When Jay first moved to Philadelphia for school she contemplated if she would re-register to vote or stay registered at home in Virginia.
“I am lucky to both come from and go to college in purple states where my vote matters a lot! I’m a sucker for local politics, though, so eventually, I re-registered in Pennsylvania so that I could sign city-council nomination petitions.”
Jay’s hope for other young people in the nation is that they will show up and exercise their political power by voting in upcoming elections. “It’s time for politicians to listen to young people.”
Thank you Jay for sharing your story with us!