Jordan Thomas ’18 and Sen. Cory Booker
David Kelly Crow

When Jordan Thomas ’18 met with Sen. Cory Booker after Booker’s Class Day address, the two had plenty in common to talk about. 

For starters, both are Rhodes scholars. Booker received an honors degree in U.S. history at Oxford in 1994, and Thomas will pursue two master’s degrees there: in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation, and an M.B.A. 

Then there’s Yale Law School, where Booker earned his law degree and which Thomas will attend after Oxford. 

But the strongest connection is a shared concern for and pride in the city of Newark, N.J. — where Booker served as a city councilman and mayor before being elected to the Senate, and where Thomas grew up and attended the city’s public schools.

“I made it where I am because of Newark, not despite Newark,” Thomas said. “There were a number of obstacles to overcome, but a lot of opportunities as well — and I know Sen. Booker feels very similarly.” 

Among the obstacles, he said, were a lack of school resources and a concern about safety on his way to and from school. But he said he learned to be resilient — “to make the most of what I have” — and that Newark teachers “really made the difference” as mentors.

The Wilson School concentrator said that after law school he plans to return to Newark “to have as much impact on the community as possible” — with a tech startup and nonprofit legal work as options before a possible run for public office.