Joseph McKeen
Center for the Common Good

Jordan Payne
Class of 2012

Posted June 08, 2007

Even before coming to Bowdoin, Jordan (Government & Legal Studies and Sociology) was passionate about giving back to her community and started the project "Minors in Music" where she worked to bring members of the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City to see a musical and meet the actors at a popular community theater called The Theatre in the Park. After seeing happiness on the kids faces when they were able to experience the joy of theater, Jordan was hooked. The following summer, Jordan worked at the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, an organization that provides advocacy and support to LGBT victims of domestic violence and hate crimes. One of the most poignant aspects of her experience at the KCAVP was working with young LGBT-idetified kids - discussing healthy relationships and positive gay role models.

When the opportunity to work at the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project through the Community Matters in Maine Summer Fellowship came up, Jordan felt it was a perfect fit for her growing interest in the civil rights and legal arenas, and for her passion to work with others in a one-on-one setting.

Working at VLP gave Jordan the the unique opportunity to actively combat the legal injustices that Mainers face every day. It was extremely rewarding to provide resources and guidance to low-income Mainers facing civil legal issues who often have nowhere else to turn for support. One day while working at the Courthouse Assistance Project at the District Court of Portland (with the VLP), a poor Russian woman going through a divorce took Jordan's hand and started crying. When she asked what was wrong, the woman simply said, "thank you for finally listening." This simple interaction solidified the aspect of community service that Jordan finds the so rewarding: allowing those who feel powerless or voiceless to feel happy and in control of their lives.

Jordan plans to attend law school and pursue a career in public interest law. In particular, she is interested in working as a civil rights litigator in the burgeoning field of LGBT marriage, work-place, and employment equality.

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“I often felt frustrated that I would not be able to affect change as just one little person (with undeniably big goals), but now I have realized that if my service can make just one person's life a little better, a little happier, or a little more manageable, that I really have made a difference on society.”