Student Spotlight: Jordan Kramer, Junior in Political Science and Community and Civic Engagement
Published on Feb 04, 2019
Jordan Kramer is a junior majoring in political science and community and civic engagement. He serves as the SGA Executive Vice President of Outreach and previously served as a College of Liberal Arts Senator. He recently founded the Affirming Birmingham Coalition (ABC), a group of two dozen youth advocates, LGBTQ activists, mental health professionals and faith leaders endeavoring to end conversion therapy in Birmingham and support its survivors.
1. Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have recently learned more about the family you’re given and that which you choose. A native of Prattville, Alabama, I chose the Auburn family and have received nothing but support since the day I landed on the Plains. I am studying political science and community and civic engagement. My studies have been challenging, but they’ve also taught me to challenge systems of convention and inequity. The job of a speechwriter, to which I have been drawn to since middle school, is perfectly positioned to frame the dialogue surrounding policy. No longer a mere stenographer, the speechwriter is the original catalyst of change, the means by which policies are promulgated and solutions are sought.
2. What has your Auburn/CLA experience been like, so far? And do you have a favorite class or professor?
CLA’s impact on my educational and personal development cannot be overstated. I would not have experienced half the things I have without the support of countless administration officials, advisors, professors and peers. So many have given me the opportunities to expand my passions, but Dr. Mark Wilson is my closest mentor within CLA. He regularly underscores the importance of “creating a life, not just a living” for oneself, and I know that I’ll carry this mantra wherever I go from Auburn. Plus, Dr. Wilson and I share an affinity for Saturday Night Live and The Office; he’s a really cool guy.
3. What are your responsibilities as the SGA Executive Vice President of Outreach? And what was your experience like as a CLA Senator before that?
As EVP of Outreach, I manage about 25 student leaders working to ensure that all students know they are heard and represented by SGA. I am extremely grateful to serve Auburn’s student body, but I do miss advocating for CLA as a Senator. Our college is extremely unique, and its students are truly exceptional. I cannot wait to see my classmates solve the problems of our society, be they social or scientific.
4. Would you tell us about your internship with The Trevor Project, and your role with The Affirming Birmingham Coalition?
I could not have interned with The Trevor Project without the support of CLA. Dr. Cynthia Bowling, Dr. Charles Israel and Dr. Paul Harris worked tirelessly to ensure that I could make the most of this opportunity, and it was really special. I got to lead landmark research into suicide prevention efforts within California and create a website for 50 Bills 50 States, the largest national campaign to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. I got to manage a team of about forty volunteers and pursue legislation against conversion therapy in sixteen states. I got to promote LGBTQ mortality data collection and write an article published in The Washington Post. Last summer was a busy one, but I enjoyed every second of it. Once I returned to Auburn, I wanted to continue this activism. So I began traveling to Birmingham, the most populous city in Alabama. I worked with community leaders to promote awareness around conversion therapy, the dangerous and discredited practice aimed at changing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and explore avenues through which we could reduce the barbaric exercise. To this end, I founded the Affirming Birmingham Coalition (ABC), a group of two dozen youth advocates, LGBTQ activists, mental health professionals and faith leaders endeavoring to end conversion therapy in Birmingham and support its survivors. ABC began by petitioning the Mayor, and we are now working with his staff to create a city ordinance that, if passed by the City Council, would prohibit mental health professionals from subjecting minors to conversion therapy. Forty-three municipalities have passed similar legislation, but because Birmingham would be the first in the Deep South, ABC has been widely reported by U.S. News and World Report, the Associated Press, Alabama Political Reporter and several other media outlets.
5. What advice do you have for underclassman (especially freshman) that you wish you would have had/known about?
I am a junior and my younger brother just began his freshman year at Auburn, and that has been really special. Our one-bedroom apartment, however, is not all that special – or spacious. I have told him and other underclassmen to make the most of these years at Auburn. Young people, especially those at Auburn, can effect real change when given real support. So I always recommend students pursue extracurricular projects, on or off campus, to accompany and augment their studies. For the sake of transparency, I should admit that this recommendation of extracurricular involvement is also meant to get my brother out of the apartment every once in a while.
6. What do you consider to be one of the best features or resources at Auburn for students? The tenets of the Creed represent timeless values to which I will always be committed. Of course I will return to Jordan-Hare, but my involvement with Auburn will not stop there. I will spend my adult life trying to repay Auburn men and women for the immeasurable impact they have had on me.
Interview by Vicky Santos, College of Liberal Arts