James Kirk has demonstrated his capacity for leadership and his commitment to civic engagement since he set foot on our campus. He has served as the president of student government at Frostburg and also as president of the University System of Maryland Student Council. He has testified to the Maryland General Assembly for legislation that would benefit students. He is preparing for a life of public service, with specific interests in both education policy and economic development. Last summer, he served as an intern in the government relations office for a non-profit in Washington, DC. The opportunity to engage in research and to meet with legislative staff on Capitol Hill reinforced his passion for public service.
His student activism on the campus has reflected his concerns about the political and cultural differences that divide students and create mistrust between the campus and the community. He has worked effectively with other student leaders and with City of Frostburg officials to bring people together for conversations and dialogue. In doing so, he has sought to address a serious threat to the student experience - the polarization and fear that threatens the university's role as a marketplace of diverse ideas, viewpoints, and values.
I first learned the importance of advocacy from watching my parents tirelessly fight to ensure that my brother, who has autism, received the quality public education he deserved. Growing up, I volunteered alongside my parents at local autism awareness events that opened my eyes to the power of communities uniting to combat social challenges. Arriving on my campus as a college freshman, I discovered my university's Student Government Association as an outlet for my passion for advocacy and civic engagement. During my tenure as president of the Student Government Association,one issue I sought to address was a cultural divide between students from urban areas and the rural community our school is located in. To that end,I became the first student representative to a local nonprofit focusing on economic development. In this role, I meet with civic and business leaders to stress the importance of students to the regional economy, and to discuss the social differences that have historically divided students and the community. Through this work I have been able to facilitate a number of civic partnerships and events focused on bridging this divide by introducing students to local small businesses and engaging them in community service projects.