Rising Leaders – Grad Edition: Meet Ja’Von Fields, Rise Michigan Lead Campus Organizer and Grand Valley State University 2024 Graduate

Rising Leaders – Grad Edition: Meet Ja’Von Fields, Rise Michigan Lead Campus Organizer and Grand Valley State University 2024 Graduate

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What inspired you to get involved in community organizing and advocacy? What experiences have led you to Rise?

Hi, my name is Javon Fields. I’m RISE’s lead campus organizer and a student at Grand Valley State University graduating this spring. What inspired me to get involved in my community on my campus when it comes to organizing and advocacy was understanding that as a student I learned the hard way that we do have a lot more power than what it led to believe. We just need the proper guidance to help shape our organizing, help shape our advocacy. There are plenty of issues that we care about. There are plenty of issues that I care about. What led me to RISE is that RISE has a similar issue that I care about and they have the proper training and guidance that can help students rally and come together and advocate for those things that they truly care about.

What’s one thing people get wrong about your generation? What do you think is your generation’s superpower?

The one thing people get wrong about my generation, Generation Z, is that we don’t show up. And quite honestly, we’re seeing it right now in real time – how Generation Z does show up, and we are very aware of what’s happening, not only just domestically, in the United States, but also internationally. We care about issues and we’re prepared to show up, have a list of demands, and serve it to those who can meet those demands. However, if those demands are not met, then we’re gonna hold the people who are in charge – elected officials or whoever – accountable for those demands.

What were your biggest challenges to reaching graduation day and how did you overcome those obstacles?

The biggest challenge reaching graduation day, as I reflect through my whole entire academic career, was being able to financially support myself and pay for tuition. Tuition is very expensive and, considering inflation and the way our society is operating right now, very challenging as a student and as a young person who is still still trying to build their resume, get professional development and also carve out time to do homework, prepare for exams, etc. When I first started college, there were not a lot of financial opportunities that would support students. I think RISE does a great job of understanding that we are students and supplementing us through our journey – because we need that.” Oftentimes, I think the misconception with college is that all you have to do is classes, and that may be true for some, but there are many people, including myself, who have to work. I had to commute to classes so I wasn’t living on campus, had to pay rent, also work a full-time job being a full-time student, etc. So that was one of the biggest challenges.

Do you have any fears or worries as you enter the post-college world?

I don’t have any fears or worries entering the post-graduation world, because I put forth the work, and when you put forth the work and the right kind of attitude, the next thing you know, opportunities are just going to come upon you. On top of that, I got a phenomenal support system that I’m very fortunate and blessed to have, and I never took it for granted. These people have guided me, supported me, and pushed me beyond my limits sometimes, through all the adversities of college. College is not easy, and I am so very, very grateful and I have never took it for granted.

Why do you think it’s important for students and young people to build political power?

It’s extremely important that young people really begin to build their political power, because their voices do matter. A lot of your elected officials, state, local, federal, really care about what you think and what you know. But when you don’t show up to the polls or when you don’t show up to the events, meetings, etc., then it’s easy for your voice to be minimized or diluted. When they see more young people showing up and taking charge, then people have to listen – They have to do something.

What’s next?

As a new graduate, my plans are to prepare for the LSAT, which I’m looking forward to doing, the law school admission test, and do well in the LSAT, get a good score, and then pursue law school, where I wanna become a lawyer and be an even better resource to my community.

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