After attending the National Young Women Run conference in D.C., Kaya Jones was inspired to become an IGNITE Fellow. “Being around all those great women really motivated me, I just wanted to be in an environment like that,” she shares. When it was announced that the IGNITE Fellowship would come to Philadelphia, Kaya jumped at the opportunity to lead her community.
Kaya started out as a journalism major at Temple University, but after taking a politics course, realized she wanted to have a bigger role in creating change. “I wanted to be the person they were talking about vs. talking about the person,” says Kaya. Eventually, she became a double-major in journalism and political science.
As a born-leader, Kaya wasn’t entirely new to the world of politics. She ran for student government in her first year of college, and was elected as the Deputy Director of Local and Community Affairs. One of the things she’s most passionate about is working with her community, and knew that there was even more she could do to help her peers. Using what she had learned during Fellows trainings and workshops, Kaya eventually became part of an all women-campaign on campus.
Kaya’s most memorable experience as a Fellow was her first college council. The college council not only had a great turnout, it also inspired the young women who attended to continue reaching for their dreams. “Just being able to create a connected community of women who share a similar passion has always been one of the best parts of being a Fellow.”As part of IGNITE in the virtual world, Kaya also recently held a virtual regional college council with Fellows Anna del Castillo and Alicia Smith.
“As an IGNITE Fellow, I felt like I had this whole community of civically-engaged people I could rely on and all these resources I could use.” Kaya says she didn’t grow up around people who were interested in politics, except for her grandmother who served as a councilwoman when Kaya was a child. “I always say that’s where I get my political ambition from.”
Kaya shares that the Fellowship has helped her grow both personally and professionally. “I’ve been able to hone in on where my strengths and weaknesses lie as a leader. It’s been a huge learning experience for me.” She also says that her network has expanded exponentially, and knows so many of the political leaders in her area now. “It’s helped me learn what steps to take next.”
In terms of those next steps, Kaya aims to attend law school in the near future, and one day hopes to have her own political consulting firm.
Kaya’s advice for anyone thinking of applying to the Fellowship is to just go for it. “All the Fellows are so unique and have a different story and set of skills. Be yourself. Be authentically you, because IGNITE cherishes diversity.”
Interested in becoming an IGNITE Fellow? Learn more here.