Jason Steuerwald is a recent graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., though he has called Midland Park, New Jersey home for the past twenty years and is looking forward to making a new home in Ithaca, New York as he joins the Cornell University Law School Class of 2023 this fall.
After earning his Bachelor of Arts in Justice and Law and a Certificate in Advanced Leadership Studies in just two and a half years, he is excited to move on to law school and pursue a career in public service. Though he explored many different areas of interest throughout his academic career so far, his passion undeniably lies in leadership and the defense of the liberty and equality of others.
Growing up in a small conservative town in Northern New Jersey came with benefits, though sometimes they may have been disguised as detriments. Beyond being afforded many opportunities to expand his capacities as a leader, such as heading up numerous clubs and teams as an officer and eventually becoming the district’s student representative to the Board of Education, Jason often had to defend and justify his views and ultimately his identity to his peers and community as one of the few outspoken liberal students. This opportunity to hone his argumentative and persuasive abilities is one of the aspects that has drawn him to the study of justice and law.
While in college, Jason was always working both inside and outside the classroom. As of the fall of 2018, he became one of the original peer facilitators for the Project on Civil Discourse based out of the American University School of Public Affairs. This organization aims to explore the layers and limitations of “civility,” creating spaces for students to engage with current, challenging topics like discourse in the post truth era, controversial campus speakers, religion and politics, and many more. He collaborated with other facilitators to create and lead these discussion modules in both curricular and extra-curricular settings. He also worked as an overnight supervisor at American University’s library which included a lot of trouble-shooting with fellow exhausted students and sorting many interesting books, papers, and other types of media. He is also the GROW (Guided Reflection on Work) supervisor for multiple employees, serving as their point person for helping student assistants pursue their professional interests in the context of their time at the library.
One of the most formative experiences of Jason’s time at American University was with the School of Public Affairs Leadership Program. Starting in his first year, he and his fellow issue group members engaged in a year long research project on the misrepresentation of different racial groups in the media. By the end of the year, they brought together a panel of experts and current practitioners to talk to American University students about their experiences with race and working television and film. In his second and final year in the program, as he took an accelerated track, he performed his own social action research project while also working as a teaching assistant for the new class of first-year students. Jason himself spent the year researching and building a website dispelling the unfair and unfounded stigma against bully breed dogs, particularly pitbulls. At the same time, he guided his group of students while they developed their own website which provides students with a sexuality and gender-inclusive resource for sex education for when their own districts may not have an inclusive curriculum or any curriculum at all. Although both his individual and his students’ research was a very important part of the program, the experience of mentoring his students and watching them come into their own both inside and out of the program, with two of them even being selected for the teaching team this year, was by far the most rewarding.
Off campus, Jason had the opportunity to develop a myriad of skills. From January to May of 2019, he worked as one of the undergraduate interns at the National Center for Transgender Equality. During his time there, he completed projects for multiple departments, including communications, development, and state policy. From donor research and data entry to social media content curation to even helping to create the state by state name change for minors resource, Jason was able to gain a holistic understanding of how a non-profit organization functions while playing a part in the fight for transgender rights, something that, as a transgender man, he is incredibly passionate about. In a completely different vein, Jason worked as a server and barista at Tryst in the Adams Morgan area of DC. It was a fast-paced coffeehouse, bar, and lounge where he learned everything from how to create a superb shot of espresso to inventory logging to the best way to mop a whole restaurant in time to catch the last train home. In his time at Tryst, he was selected to become a barista, which allowed him to attend classes at Counter Culture Coffee covering all the bases, from the history and chemistry of coffee to basic espresso machine maintenance to making beautiful latte art. While in school, Jason rarely had a free moment, but when he wasn’t busy learning about leadership and justice, he could usually be found in the practice room or on the run.
Jason has found significant growth as a person and leader in the realm of drum corps. From a very young age, music played a crucial part in his life. In high school, he considered the marching band his home and even carried his passion for the marching arts past the fall season, earning contracts as a member of the local Fusion “Core” in the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons, during the last of which he was promoted to contra section leader. In this position, he spent months garnering the hard-earned respect of men both older and younger than him and learned the value of teaching and helping others grow. In the summer of 2018, he went on tour with the Oregon Crusaders, a world class corps based out of Portland, Oregon. He spent five weeks training everyday and then toured the country, performing and competing for another five weeks. Though it was incredibly challenging, it was also transformative. Not only did he accomplish a life-long dream, but he also was able to push himself and learn a lot about who he is as a leader. This fall, he made his way back to the high school field, consulting as a visual and brass technician for Quince Orchard high school marching band in Montgomery County, Maryland. He spent three to four days a week directly instructing students on their marching technique as well as offering support and guidance. In addition to the professional experience and continuing his own music education, he was astonished by how much he has learned from each of his students.
Though he has had less and less free time as his academic career has progressed, Jason has always found peace in running. In high school, he ran varsity track and field and his senior year was co-captain of the indoor track team. Even though the competitive track is far behind him, he still enjoys taking the time to step away and push his limits in a different way. In March of 2019, he ran the New York City Half-Marathon with DKMS, an international bone marrow donation charity, in support of one of his former teammates who had been diagnosed with aplastic anemia.
He’s so excited to be starting his journey towards becoming a true defender of justice once he begins law school in the fall and is looking forward to exploring new professional and personal experiences while he counts down the days!
Phone: (201) 788-4260
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