Jax Richards is only going into his second year at Oregon State University, but he is already a leading advocate for change on campus.
Jax, an economics and public policy major, is the founder of Safeguard Youth, a non-profit that seeks to create a platform for youth and survivors of child abuse to advocate for and defend child welfare. He is working with State Senator Sara Gelser and Oregon State University to expand this organization beyond OSU.
Jax began Safeguard Youth after personally experiencing child abuse and neglect while growing up in Beaverton. His nonprofit works to improve Oregon’s current child welfare systems and be a voice for those who have experienced or continue to experience abuse and neglect. This fall, he will be meeting with multiple nonprofit leaders, policymakers and department directors to advocate change.
Jax recently finished a fellowship with the Biden Presidential Campaign and is part of the Willamette Valley Legislative Fellowship, led by Representative Dan Rayfield. In addition to this, he took 19 credits of courses over the summer, and he is the lead organizer of TEDxOregonStateU. He is also continuing to work on his honors thesis on child welfare reform, which he started during his first year.
Referring to his unstable and difficult childhood, Jax explains, “Statistically speaking, I shouldn’t be at college. My personal best achievement is just keeping myself motivated and dedicated to bettering myself and my community.”
In his free time, Jax enjoys hanging out with his emotional support turtle, Ginsburg, named after late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Through this global pandemic, like many students at OSU, Jax found the abrupt transition to remote learning challenging. “Ultimately,” Jax says, “I’ve found peace in knowing that these are going to be unpredictable and changing times, and I’m making the most of it possible! The Honors College has been great with their communication and service throughout this whole process, and I’m proud to still be working with them and be one of their students.”
Jax is ready to take on fall term remotely, including participating in an honors colloquium — Data Geek’s Guide to the 2020 Election — which he’s eagerly looking forward to.