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Jess Schnitzer

Born in 2002, Jess was adopted from Hubei, China and has spent most of her life living on Beacon Hill right behind the Massachusetts State House. As she passed on her way to school each day, she developed an interest in public service and hoped one day to work in a place like that. After joining Girl Scouts in the second grade, she learned about what it meant to be a global and active citizen. In fifth grade, she earned her “Public Speaking” and “Inside the Government” badges where she got to meet public officials and formed a deeper interest in public service. 

While starting at BLS in 7th grade, Jess found herself engaging in more social justice campaigns as a part of a youth group called Teens Acting For Social Change. Through that group, she met more public officials, attended protests, and campaigned. At BLS, Jess was the President of Massachusetts Junior Classical League, Wolfpack Volunteers, and Asian Students in Action. In her senior year, she took AP US Government and was a Topol Fellow in Peace and Non-Violence. These organizations and leadership roles allowed her to develop as a person and become more engaged in her community. 

Jess’s Jewish and Asian heritage motivates her to engage in learning and combat discrimination and inequality. She grew up hearing stories of her grandparents who survived the Holocaust and takes the lessons she learned as a child to heart. Through stories of persecution and oppression she is motivated to speak out against injustice. There is always more to learn about the many forms of inequality and due to that, she values listening to other people’s stories. 

Last year, as a Seevak Fellow in Human Rights and Social Justice, Jess interned with two non-profits, the Paraclete Center, an educational enrichment program in the South End, and GLBTQIA+ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) as a Public Affairs and Education intern. Working in the non-profit sector showed her the ways that community organizations can engage with public policy and local government. Jess seeks to learn more ways that government and law can create much needed social change. She applied to the Ward Fellowship hoping to understand more about local government, what is being done in the city that she lives in, and how she can be more involved as a citizen.