News & Ideas

Student Spotlight: Justis Gordon ’24

Justis Gordon gives a double thumbs-up
Justis Gordon (center) with other members of the ELP program. Photo by Kevin Grady/Harvard Radcliffe Institute

Justis Gordon is a Harvard College student studying human developmental and regenerative biology with a secondary field of global health and health policy. This year is her third as an Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) mentor, and her second as a member of the curriculum committee for ELP.

After coming across flyers about the ELP program, Gordon decided to apply to be a mentor because the program combined her passions for youth mentorship and social change.

As a mentor, Gordon meets weekly with high school mentees, engaging them in discussions about leadership and social change and working with them on semester-long projects that address various social issues. As a member of the curriculum committee, Gordon works with other Harvard college students and ELP staff to identify characteristics that are important for leadership—such as public speaking, storytelling, research, and outreach—and to develop exercises to allow high school students to build these skills organically.

In the three years that Gordon has been with ELP, she’s seen the sessions grow from hosting students from one high school, one day a week, to four high schools, four days a week. As the program has expanded, says Gordon, the increasing diversity of experiences and perspectives brought into the classroom by both ELP mentors and high school students has enriched the program.

Gordon emphasized that the ELP community is one of the main reasons she’s returned to ELP year after year. “There’s no other space on Harvard’s campus that is the same as the Emerging Leaders Program,” she says. “There’s so much care. There’s so much passion within the community. And it’s so inspiring and enlightening.”

Sam Zuniga-Levy is a writer at Harvard Radcliffe Institute.

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