Changemaker Jada: Looking to Make a Difference in Healthcare Policy

The Next Generation to Drive Change:

Since its inception, iMentor has served nearly 38,000 students across the country. Today, many of these incredible individuals are now members of the workforce, drivers of change in their communities, and proud iMentor alumni. As associate director of development for iMentor NYC, Allison Dorf-Ferrandis recently had the opportunity to reconnect with four iMentor NYC alumni, and they had a lot to share.  

The alumni talked about what they’re up to now, reminisced about their first impressions of their mentors, reflected on what life has been like during the pandemic, and looked ahead to where they see themselves in 10 years.
Keep reading to learn more about, Jada, one these inspiring alumni who are the next generation of leaders.

For more from these inspiring young professionals, join us 10/28 for iMentor Alumni: The Next Generation to Drive Change: A panel moderated by Emmy-Award Winning Reporter, Maria Hinojosa featuring Jada, James, Ashlyn and Luisais.

When I met with Jada, she was dressed in her American University sweatshirt, sitting in front of her packed college bags that were collecting dust behind her in her family’s apartment in the Bronx. She was supposed to be on campus in D.C., experiencing her first year of college, but because of the pandemic, has been attending classes remotely. When we connected over Zoom, she was finishing her online classes for the day, and had another call lined up after ours. She shared that a typical day for her is “Zoom, homework, sleep, Zoom, homework, sleep.”

She took me back to when she was a first-year student at the Academy for Software Engineering, one of iMentor’s partner schools in NYC. At the time, she thought she was going to be a web developer, but after taking a few computer science classes, she started to realize that she was more drawn to public service and wanted to do “something that impacts many more people and changes their lives.”

Jada joined model congress, interned at the law firm Cleary Gottlieb, focusing on alumni relationships, and became a student ambassador for her high school. This was also when she met her mentor, Megan.

“She was a good person to have in my corner. I was able to rationalize things with her,” said Jada about her relationship with Megan. “She took me to a college fair, and helped me with the right questions to ask, helped me compare the schools on my list and think through why they were on my list.”

Jada and her mentor got together to eat pizza in Union Square, went on excursions with Megan’s husband and his mentee, who also attended AFSE, and even went to Megan’s office twice for Take Your Mentee to Work Day. “She went all out for me,” said Jada. “She was asking the questions no one else was asking.”

Jada is now studying public health and legal studies at American University, while also serving as a teaching assistant and an orientation leader for incoming students.

According to Jada, her mom, a nurse, always stressed the importance of health, and in school Jada has realized how access to health and health insurance (or a lack thereof) can shape the way individuals interact with the healthcare system. “Health is a building block to setting the trajectory for the rest of your life. Health is always going to be a human issue, that’s not changing,” Jada said. The Covid-19 pandemic has only solidified Jada’s commitment to studying public health and eventually law.

When I asked her where she sees herself in 10 years, she described being at the intersection of health care policy and law. “People in the healthcare system who look like me are treated with less respect, and it’s gone on for way too long,” she said. “I want to represent people to get justice and hold others accountable.”

Jada’s story is part of a collection of stories highlighting a few iMentor alumni who are driving change. Check back on our blog to read the next feature!