While JSU students went home for the winter break, Jordan Jefferson’s break began with an email that started with a “Congratulations” from Harvard University – a place he hopes to attend for graduate school.
A political science major and sophomore at Jackson State, Jefferson has been selected to attend the 18th annual Public Policy and Leadership Conference (PPLC), Feb. 8-11, at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
“It felt surreal,” exclaimed Jefferson, a longtime Jackson resident. “I am very interested in public policy and law. I am all for making the world a better place.”
The PPLC is designed to inform freshmen and sophomore students about careers in the public sector. The conference encourages students who are committed to public service to prepare for graduate study in public policy and international affairs. It also provides information on financial support through various fellowship programs.
This year’s cohort is comprised of 73 student leaders selected nationwide from a pool of over 800 applicants from 220 different institutions. Jefferson and Ananda Collins were chosen from Jackson State. JSU senior political science major Faith Ambrose attended the sixteenth annual conference in 2016.
Students at the PPLC conference will hear from distinguished speakers, partake in workshops & panels, and even attend some Harvard Kennedy School graduate courses. The conference also allows students to network with their cohort members, as well as with students, faculty and staff at the Kennedy School of Government.
Jefferson says that he hopes the experiences and knowledge he will acquire at the conference will be a benefit to JSU.
“Of course, I want to research the graduate school at Harvard. But, mainly, I want the experience to help mold me into a better leader for the future. Not only for my career but JSU as well,” he said.
A 2016 valedictorian of Callaway High School, Jefferson is also a member of the JSU Tigers’ football team. When he is not on the field playing wide receiver, he is either in class or in the student government center advocating for students as the sophomore class vice president. He is also a member of the W.E.B. Du Bois-Harvey Honors College and volunteers much of his time in the Jackson community.
“He is a young man who is very bright, intelligent, hard-working, dependable, and trustworthy. I really enjoy having him on our football team…he has great leadership abilities,” says Tony Hughes, head football coach for the JSU Tigers.
Jefferson first learned about the conference through the W.E.B. Du Bois-Harvey Honors College after it hosted a Spring 2017 recruitment event with the Harvard Kennedy School. He was later recommended to attend the conference by Dr. Loria Brown Gordon, associate dean of the Honors College.
Besides Dr. Gordon’s recommendation letter, Jordan had to send a resume, a personal statement and an academic transcript that highlighted his stellar 4.0 grade-point average.
“He is a focused and a well-rounded student who knows what he wants and goes after it,” said Gordon, who got to know the student-athlete when they both traveled to Cape Town, South Africa with the JSU Passport to the World program.
Jefferson hopes to eventually contribute to the overall growth and prosperity of the state of Mississippi as a public servant. He credits JSU for a great start.
“Jackson State University is developing me into the man I want to be. I still have a long way to go, but I have come so far,” he said.