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April 6, 2020 at 7:57 pm

Happy Beginnings | Jordyn Zimmerman ’20 Wants to Be a Catalyst for Change

Jordyn Zimmerman, portrait

Jordyn Zimmerman

The Happy Beginnings series features College of Arts & Sciences graduates who are getting started in careers, graduate school and service.

Jordyn Zimmerman is an Ohio University senior who is graduating this spring. Zimmerman is a member of the Center for Law, Justice & Culture’s Certificate Class of 2020.

“Jordyn hopes to become a catalyst for change in education. Diagnosed with autism, Jordyn has been challenging the status quo in special education for many years. Because Jordyn has difficulty with verbal communication, the educational system as it was, didn’t realize Jordyn’s true potential,” she says on her website.

What’s your major?

I am studying Education Policy, which combines education with policy and law. I am also minoring in Communication Studies and have the Certificate in Law, Justice & Culture.

What drew you to apply to the certificate?

During my freshman year, I was introduced to Larry Hayman, Esq. (who used to practice in the area of special education!) and Dr. Haley Duschinski. I was really intrigued by the certificate and the interdisciplinary curriculum. They encouraged me to apply during the fall of sophomore year, and I am so glad I did.

How did your time within the CLJC affect your path forward?

There are so many inequalities in this world; however, they often stem back to our education system. Throughout my time in the certificate program, I’ve come to understand how a society and the systems within it can control and change the future for all kids.

The array of classes that I otherwise would have not had the opportunity to take have really broadened my knowledge about a wide range of issues facing minorities, while reaffirming my passion for education-related policy and laws.

What are you most grateful for regarding the CLJC?

As a requirement of the certificate, my cohort took the Themes in Action: Making and Breaking the Law. The speakers and films that we attended, reflected on, and related back to law in the news, expanded my understanding of issues facing our society. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to attend many of the empowering programs the CLJC has brought to campus during my time at OHIO.

What class within the certificate offerings was your favorite?

It’s hard to pick just one class! However, I was enrolled in Dr. Rachel Terman’s SOC 4700: Sociology of Gender while I was also in a field placement at a local school. Being able to understand the gender roles as social constructs and the not-so-subtle language differences that have been observed when engaging with young students was very helpful. It gave me a new perspective and made me a better advocate for student needs.

Is there a CLJC faculty affiliate who helped shape your time here?

Due to my disabilities, I typically connect with my professors prior to each semester beginning. After emailing Dr. Jennifer Fredette a couple weeks before the start of class, she wanted to know what steps she could take to make the class more inclusive and increase accessibility in the course. Even beyond endlessly inventive assignments in the classroom, Dr. Fredette has been such an amazing thought partner!

Dr. Fredette has done so much for me in terms of talking through advocacy projects on campus, assisting me with preparations for a summer internship in D.C., writing me letters of recommendation, and more. I have always been amazed at how willing to help all of the CLJC faculty are.

Why did you choose to attend Ohio University?

I am autistic and nonspeaking. When we visited Ohio University, a new program was in the process of being created for autistic students — ready to pilot my freshman year. At the time, my family and I thought Ohio University would be the best fit. While Ohio University is a big school, it has a small campus atmosphere, which solidified my decision even more.  Athens is also beautiful!

Do you have any advice for students interested in law?

First and foremost, apply to the certificate! Whether you are interested in education, healthcare, business, or something else — law is intertwined in everything. Be open to different applications of how the certificate can advance your thinking or how it may even change your educational path.

What were your best Ohio University experiences?

Since its inception my freshman year, I have been leading Ohio University Sparkles, an inclusive cheerleading team with the goal of raising the public symbol of acceptance. My best time was spent with the team — whether that was at practice, dancing half-time at one of the volleyball games, or cheering at a basketball game.

A lot of people don’t realize how adaptive cheerleading is —whereas, if someone is unable to move their legs, they may still be able to move their arms. I love when we were at a game and someone came up to our team for a picture. There is nothing distinguishing us from others. We all have the same Bobcat pride!!

What’s your fondest memory of Athens?

Being in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, I keep thinking back to our “Class of 2020” picture. At the time, it was an extremely overwhelming experience to be funneled into Peden amongst all my freshmen classmates. Albeit now, it’s an amazing memory to have.

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