Empowering Our Youth to Strengthen Our Democracy
2023 No. 2
Students for Justice volunteer mentors are our secret sauce and one of the things our interns value the most about our program. We sat down with Clifford Cooper and Christopher Mathews to gain more insight into one of our most successful mentor/intern pairings. What we learned was fascinating. Chris was aiming high with his future goals, which include becoming the Mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, but he wasn’t laying the important groundwork to make it happen, and Cliff was able to help him take some big steps toward his goals. Cliff and Chris also worked together to help another intern stay in the program and get back in the groove at college. Read about this and more in the interview excerpts below. 
Clifford Cooper
Christopher Mathews
Clifford:  I first met Chris in May of 22 when he was assigned to me as an intern, but I really got to know him when he came to Washington, DC. in July of that year, representing Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) on Capitol Hill, and we had lunch. We talked, and as we progressed, he made a statement that sort of pricked my ears because, he said, one day he's going be mayor of Tallahassee. I said, are you for real? He said, yes, he's very active on campus. He was doing a lot of great things already, which is why he got to come to Washington, DC. So from there, we started trying to put out a little roadmap to get him from Point A to Point B. 

Christopher: As soon as I met Mr. Cooper, we had the most interesting conversations, and Mr. Cooper was that guide, that light in my life. He was like, Okay, Chris, if this [running for Mayor of Tallahassee] is what you want to do, then you have to put the time, the energy, and the effort towards getting that done. And I really do appreciate Mr. Cooper for just being there for me and just pushing me along the path to do what I have to do.

I was able to get in contact with Mayor John Daley [of Tallahassee], and he gave me a job working as an assistant campaign director, from just basically me proving myself to him, saying, Okay, I did Students for Justice, so let me make a TikTok for you, for your campaign. I went and knocked down each obstacle because of Students for Justice. I made two TikToks for the Mayor of Tallahassee for his reelection, and I applied everything I learned in Students for Justice to those TikToks for the mayor. [Click here for an example of one of Chris's TikToks!]
I just got a job yesterday, an internship for the Florida Association of Counties. I'll be working with them until the end of May. I give this program 100% of the credit; Students for Justice was a very pivotal point in my life. [Eventually] I see myself going onto the city commission and working my way up to the mayor's position.

Clifford: I must say one more thing about Chris that really made me happy. I had one Students for Justice mentee who was struggling, who had left school, and I called Chris and said Chris, call this young brother and see if you can get him back in the groove because, it was just unusual to have a kid drop out of school, and in the first semester, who's only been there a couple of weeks, and he was back home with his mama. This is a bad sign. This is not going to end well if we don't get him back at school because those first few weeks are crucial. And Chris, without hesitation, said I got you, I will call him. And he did, and next thing I know, the brother’s back at Morehouse, and he finishes the semester. He did well, and he did well with the [internship] program. I know Sandy and Claire were ready to kick him out of the program, so we saved him, and for that I'm grateful to Chris and his willingness to jump in.

This is more than an internship program. It's a career enhancement and preparation program. This is a training program par excellence…. Also, there are so many people with contacts in this organization, so many of the mentors and you guys [Sandy and Claire] have contacts from coast to coast. Every intern in the program is going to need a job one day, and they’re going to need someone to vouch for them with a recommendation. Students for Justice is there for them.
Thank you, Cliff and Chris, for exemplifying what Students for Justice stands for and for sharing your experiences with us!

With hope for our democracy,
Claire Ullman & Sandra Radoff
Help us find opportunities for our former interns!
We work hard to make Students for Justice a career stepping stone for our interns. One of the ways we do this is by sharing job and internship opportunities with our program alumni. If you know of an opportunity for current college students or recent graduates, in any field, please email us to let us know about it so we can share it with our intern community. You might even consider having one of our former interns work for you this summer!
Want to make a difference?
The ongoing success of the internship program has been made possible largely by the Zoom house parties we've been organizing (more than 50 since Spring 2021!) Thank you to our AMAZING house party hosts for pulling their friends, co-workers, neighbors, and families together to educate people about the program and how they can engage in its on-going growth and success. To learn more about hosting or co-hosting a virtual party, please email Deb Wachspress, Development Director, at deb@studentsforjusticevote.org.

Help us reach more people! Please forward this newsletter to everyone you know who might want to help young people save our democracy.
PO Box 235, Ladysmith, VA 22501
Tax ID # 82-4589218
Share our newsletter on social media!