Kenneth Jordan is the first person to be approached by his teachers and classmates. Why? Because at 19, he is already attached to his goal in life.
“I will be dedicated to public service. I want to be someone who is there,” Jordan said. “In this community that I live in, that I will eventually serve someday, I want people to know who I am by name, as someone who has my back, whether I’m in Washington, Columbus or at City Hall.”
Jordan, an alumnus of the Youth Opportunities Unlimited school program at the John Marshall School of Civic & Business Leadership, was introduced to the YOU Career Exploration Internship by his instructor, who calls him “Mr. President.”
His mentors and teachers can talk about Jordan’s journey to greatness. YOU’s internship program manager, Valérie, recalls: “Her nickname is quite appropriate. Jordan’s political aspirations were the driving force in approaching Cleveland City Hall for internships.
The YOU team secured a position for Jordan in the government affairs department of Mayor Justin Bibb’s cabinet. Her assignments included research on mental health and homicide rates as they relate to public safety and health, as well as research on how Cleveland compares to other cities with young administrations. His position also dealt with government affairs matters.
“We’re like the first boots on the court,” Jordan said. “We receive city-wide complaints and we try to solve the problems of the citizens. I learned to be calm and work effectively with government leaders.
When President Biden visited Cleveland last July, Jordan worked hard to ensure he would meet with the president. This opportunity came about through an invitation from the President’s Advancement Team to YOU to attend his visit with the students.
“I already knew about Biden’s visit because we work with the mayor’s legal team. I love American presidents so much that I hope to meet all living former presidents,” Jordan said. “The day before President Biden arrived, I emailed the White House on my lunch break, so I was excited when Valerie called me and invited me to meet him.”
At the event, Jordan saw people taking Covid tests and entering a back room with the Secret Service. He told staff he worked for mayor’s office and was asked to join union leaders in supporting the president during his speech.
“I spoke to President Biden, and he was like ‘keep going, man, keep going.'”
Jordan’s internship mentors have already invited him back to work for them at City Hall once he graduates from college.
“It was my first gig, and that’s a big deal,” he said. “This internship makes me want to go higher and higher.”
Jordan was given a full ride to John Carroll University. In addition to devoting himself to his classes, the freshman is already networking with the university’s administrative and student leaders in preparation for a career in local politics.
As the largest youth workforce development organization in the Greater Cleveland area, Youth Opportunities Unlimited works with school and community partners to set youth on the path to success for their future careers. All programs include pre-employment training, career exploration activities, caring adult coaching and mentoring, and paid work experience.