My connection to this young woman is particularly special because she not only serves as the student body vice president at her university, she has a long (and very successful) career in pageantry. Jordan even shares some perspective on how pageantry shapes young leaders! I will never forget pacing around my DC apartment last fall on the phone with Jordan, in deep conversation about her potential run for Vice President. Well, sure glad she did! She has been up to some amazing things at USC!
Tell us about your recent victory. What is your position and what inspired you to pursue this role?
It is still crazy to type out; I am the new Student Body Vice President of the University of Southern California! I got involved in student government when I was a freshman. I was an active delegate in the External Affairs Branch within the communication side of the executive cabinet. Second semester freshman year, the two current Assistant Directors of External Affairs (one of whom was Rini) became Co-Directors and I was hired as the Assistant Director of External Relations. From there, when Rini was elected Vice President, she hired me as her Director of University Affairs. As Director of University Affairs, Rini and I had a meeting with a student named Zack Wentz, who is in a wheelchair. He expressed his vision for increasing disability accessibility on campus and he also talked about his vision for a wheelchair basketball game. After this meeting, we drafted a proposal for campus renovations and policy changes to increase disability accessibility and we planned USC’s first ever wheelchair basketball game, which was a few weeks ago and was such a success. In terms of the proposal, we proposed that the Disability Services Program office be located to the 1st floor, instead of the 3rd floor of a building and now, $1 million dollars is being put towards these renovations. This is only the beginning, but seeing how much Undergraduate Student Government had the power to make somebody’s vision a reality, really proved to me that this was something I wanted to continue to be a part of.
What woman has been your biggest inspiration and what do you admire about her?
Without a doubt, my mother is my biggest inspiration. She is the most selfless human being and lives her life always trying to help those around her. She is passionate, understanding and simply is excited for life! She is a go getter who strives for excellence in everything that she does. She is without a doubt the best person I know, and definitely my biggest inspiration.
What has been the biggest struggle for you as a woman pursuing your role? How did you overcome that and what do you want others to learn from that?
Growing up doing pageants and attending an all girls school, I never really doubted myself in terms of being female. I was constantly in environments being inspired by amazing women and being encouraged to do anything that I want. As I have begun to experience more of my life, I am starting to realize, that there are people that will doubt you, sure, but being a woman only makes me more proud of who I am. I was always told that I could do anything that I put my mind to, and my gender didn’t hold me back when I didn’t realize sexism was still alive, and now, even when I am fully aware that there is prejudice against women, I am going to continue to “do my thing” regardless of what other people think.
What advice would you give to your 10 year old self?
I would tell myself to say this quote to myself everyday for the rest of my life, “Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.” As a young child, I struggled with my identity. I was self conscious about my race and lacked confidence in myself. As I have grown up, I have learned that my race and gender identify me, but don’t define me. As a result, I have gained more and more confidence in myself, am proud of who I have become, learned to love myself, and as a result realized that I have an amazing support team of people who I love and truly love me for who I am as well.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to other young women about pursuing their dreams?
Go for it 100%! If you doubt yourself and don’t think anybody is supporting you, I am only a facebook message away. Use the fact that you are a woman to your advantage! Blow the doubters out of the water and use their skepticism to fuel your purpose. You can do it.
How have pageants helped you develop as a leader?
Pageants gave me the confidence, skills and support system necessary to pursue my dreams. Pageants allowed me to start to think about my ambition at nine years old. I was able to gain life skills like interviewing, public speaking and presenting my best self. I was constantly around people who appreciated me for me and constantly encouraged me to dream bigger. I was introduced to the most amazing women across the US who I am inspired and motivated by everyday. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for pageants.
What is your career ambition?
I want to work in a field using media for social change either as a documentary producer or as a consultant for a company whose mission is to use design thinking to change the world.
Anything else you would like to add about women in leadership?
We are here for each other. It is crucial to have a diverse set of voices at every table, so put yourself out there and go for it. You are amazing. You are worth it. You can do it and I believe in you!
And for fun... what is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
Eat! I am the worlds biggest foodie! I love trying new restaurants and going back to indulge at some of my favorite places. Crispy rice spicy tuna is my favorite main dish and shaved snow is my favorite dessert!
Where is she now?
The past 12 months has been an absolute whirlwind! From finishing up my term as Student Body Vice President at USC, to a summer spent interning at Google (where I will work full time beginning in 2017), to currently wearing many hats including being a student finishing my major in the School of Cinematic Arts, serving as the the State Director for California Miss Amazing, coordinating Late Night ‘SC as a Program Manager, interning at NBCUniversal on the Universal Studios Lot, and gearing up to compete for Miss California USA in December, life is crazy busy and so crazy good!
While I will continue to pray for more hours in the day or more days in the week, I have learned how important it is for me to live each day to the fullest. For example, I knew I was going to have a lighter course load senior year so I tried to think of the best way to spend my time. I thought about relaxing, but sure enough… here I am! While I think overcommitting yourself is not the way to go, I think living a life of purpose, contribution, family and friendship are the keys to my own personal fulfillment. If you just keep your eye on the prize and surround yourself with people who build you up, you will look back at your full life and smile. To all of those women out there, believe in yourself. Always give 100% but remember to have fun along the way.
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