Kay Adam is an Auggie you might want to get to know. In the future, this determined young man could be influencing public policy decisions locally—perhaps even nationally or internationally. In fact, he’s already had experience testifying in front of the Minnesota Legislature.
Adam came to the U.S. from Kenya as a refugee in 2004. At the age of 16, he was hired to work as a janitor at a youth drop-in center. “Close to half of the youth had compromised housing,” he says. “Many were African Americans, GLBT, and living below the poverty line.” In a short time, Adam found himself taking on more and more responsibility, helping youth find more permanent housing.
Then he was asked to serve on the center’s board of directors and assist with an effort to pass Minnesota Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. He testified in front of Minnesota Legislature’s Health & Human Services committee, and the act was passed that session. It was the first legislation in Minnesota dedicated to supporting homeless youth.
This past spring, Adam was awarded a Point Foundation scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to undergraduates who are interested in influencing public policy. Adam is one of 25 recipients selected from a pool of more than 5,000 applicants. He is the only awardee attending college in Minnesota.
Adam will work with a mentor to develop a community service project. He says he is interested in creating a project that will combine his passions for education, access to housing, and helping youth who have been marginalized because of their gender or sexuality.
“The Point Foundation is interested in helping people who have potential to do great things,” Adam says. “I am glad they see that potential in me and that I have the opportunity to do this project.”
At Augsburg, Adam is in the TRIO/SSS program and is a McNair scholar, a Sabo scholar, and a North Star STEM scholar. He also received a Soul Essence community leadership award for his work with the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
As a Sabo Scholar, Adam is working on a project with Sabo Professor Garry Hesser. Their work will culminate in an Oct. 15 panel discussion at Augsburg focused on how recent healthcare legislation will affect the public.
Adam says that his educational and volunteer experiences have taught him that getting involved is sometimes simply a matter of asking. “I asked about the Sabo program, and the next thing I knew I was meeting Martin Sabo. I never thought I could meet with people who have legislative power or that I could get help from people who could make my public policy dreams come true.”
Adam is planning to go to graduate school for statistics or economics. He wants to use quantitative tools to help inform policy making at both the federal and state level.
Sabo Center Public Policy Symposium
Healthcare reform: What will it mean for you and the nation?
Friday, Oct. 15, 2010
Foss Center, Augsburg College
Donna Zimmerman, Sr. Vice President of Government and Community Relations HealthPartners
Dr. Sanne Magnan, Commissioner Minnesota Dept of Health
Dr. Bruce Amundson, President of Community Health Innovations Inc. and Assistant Professor, University of Washington School of Medicine.
Moderated by Martin Sabo.