Penn State York student is making a difference

YORK, Pa. — Jazmin Nixon, a Penn State York student majoring in human development and family studies (HD FS), is completing her internship this week at the State Capitol in a most unusual way; she is presenting a draft of legislation she wrote for open textbooks to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 11. Nixon, a senior at the York campus set to graduate on Dec. 18, has been an intern in the Pennsylvania Legislative Fellowship Program in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a highly competitive internship program where students work directly with a committee chairman in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Nixon is a Legislative Fellow intern, and has been interning in the Human Services Committee and working with Ashley McCahan, the executive director of the Human Services Committee under Minority Chairman Rep. Angel Cruz. She has enjoyed every aspect of her work.

“I really like the fact that I pursued this internship; I like doing something a little different,” said Nixon. "I love policy and helping people.”

Nixon’s legislation would provide for open textbooks, free textbooks, which would be available to students online. The legislation calls for a council of faculty members to be created who would review textbooks for about 20 of the most popular college foundation courses. By having these basic textbooks free, a wide range of students would save money and benefit from the program. The legislation also provides for a grant program to support the creation, use, and access to open textbooks. Nixon hopes her ideas will encourage the House to consider legislation that would help make higher education more affordable.

Presenting the legislation is the final project of her internship program. Once presented, the legislation must be formally introduced into the House. Although only members can introduce or sponsor legislation, House members have picked up some legislation presented by previous interns.

Nixon’s internship allowed her to be involved in a variety of activities and no two days were the same. She was assigned to research projects, wrote constituent letters, and attended meetings and events at the Capitol. She also wrote bill analysis, had the opportunity to attend workshops to learn more about the Pennsylvania State Legislature and, of course, work on her legislation.

In addition to working at the State Capitol, Nixon also completed a senior project in the HD FS program. Inspired by one of her supervisors at the internship, Nixon decided to follow her passion and do something that would benefit children.

“It can be difficult for low income families to provide diapers and clothing for their babies, and I wanted to help them,” said Nixon. “Children have a right to a healthy development; therefore I wanted to do something to make that possible. I believe that as a community, we can play a role in making sure that young children are given the opportunity to have a healthy development.”

Nixon collected a variety of baby items, from diapers and wipes to clothing and other supplies. The items are being distributed through the YWCA in York. Nixon collected 220 clothing items, 948 diapers, 1,234 wipes, and 120 other items including blankets, coats, bottles pacifiers, and more.

Nixon did the healthy baby initiative as her HD FS senior project under the guidance of faculty member JeanMarie St. Clair-Christman, instructor and field coordinator in human development and family studies at Penn State York.

“Jazmin chose her senior project because of the committees’ commitment to supporting low income families in Pennsylvania," said JeanMarie St. Clair-Christmas. “Through her work as a student in HD FS at York, Jazmin has learned about research, policy, and practice that will promote optimal family development. She has also learned the importance of advocacy. Through this internship, she is getting an opportunity to apply what she has learned.  We are so proud of Jazmin and all that she has accomplished.”

Nixon transferred to Penn State York as a sophomore and since the time she arrived has been making a difference. A familiar face in the Nittany Success Center, Nixon has been a tutor for three years and is an academic coach. She has earned the distinction of being named to the dean’s list numerous times, and her involvement on campus in organizations such as the Blue & White Society and Lion Ambassadors earned her the honor of being named the 2014 Walker Award winner, the highest honor a student can receive at a Penn State campus.

In addition to her efforts locally, Nixon also participated in the study abroad program in the spring of 2014 and studied at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

She has also has participated in a variety of volunteer activities and community service, is a part of the Graham Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies (The Graham Center), and help outs with New Student Orientation on campus.

The 2011 graduate of Dallastown High School has made the most of her education at Penn State York, and on Friday, Dec. 18, she will cross the stage of the Pullo Family Performing Arts Center and receive her bachelor of science in human development and family studies degree. Penn State York is a better place thanks to Nixon’s work.

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Last Updated December 18, 2015