My name is Jordan Milan, I graduated in May 2015 from the University of Kansas (KU) with a Bachelor’s in Spanish and African and African-American Studies. I am currently the Program Coordinator for middle and high school youth at Bethel Neighborhood Center. As a child, I attended the Summer Enrichment Program at Bethel and was one of the two Black children there since the majority of the youth at that time were Latinx (the preferred term that encompasses all genders). Being a part of the summer program opened my heart and mind to learn and become passionate about the Spanish language and Latinx culture. I took Spanish in middle school and continued with classes through high school and college. In high school I took it upon myself to watch soap operas in Spanish, research Latinx culture and colloquialisms, listen to music in Spanish, and translate songs to send to my friend who would proofread them. I was dedicated to learning a new language and culture that became part of my identity. Learning about the beauty of Afrolatinx communities within Latinx culture, I learned to love and appreciate my Blackness.
While at the University of Kansas, I got involved as a Resident Assistant, Hawk Link Guide, and a member of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Incorporada. As a Resident Assistant, I was the first person of contact for about 30 young women entering college if they had any emergencies or questions about college life. Working as a Hawk Link Guide under the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), I aided low-income, first generation, and/or students of color enroll in classes; gave advice for concerns they or their families had; and led classes to acclimate them to a college campus. I founded the University of Kansas Colony of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Incorporada along with two other friends, and I gained leadership skills through these endeavors. All of these experiences gave me the opportunity to get involved with the Office of Multicultural Affairs which offers guidance for marginalized students and provides diversity education for the entire KU community. My love for the ‘aha’ moment people get, when they learn that it’s necessary and fulfilling for them to advocate for themselves, came from the empowerment I felt from the folks at the OMA. I want to give that to other people, especially to women and children of color.
I am a part of the Women’s Leadership Initiative and became so through much doubt, uncertainty, and determination. I wasn’t sure what I would do with a Master’s of Divinity (I’m still not quite sure) and I didn’t believe that I had the chops. I applied and earned the chance to be a part of the second WLI cohort. I am a planner, someone who needs to know all the details before I make any move. Being a part of this process has taught me that I have to trust that God will be in charge of the details and reveal them to me when I need to know them. I have an unusual calmness about being a part of this program because I don’t know what will come of it, but I know that it will be enriching, challenging, and will help me grow – everything that I prayed to God that I wanted. My grandma graduated from Central as well in 2009 and many of her peers would always tease me about attending Central, and now I am here! My journey will be unique although we’ll be able to share similar experiences. I believe this opportunity will guide me in my social justice endeavors and the way I reach others.