Growing up in New Jersey, Villanova University junior Jennifer Lambert always saw herself becoming a nurse practitioner. Lambert enrolled in a program at her local magnet school that allowed her to take classes in partnership with Rutgers University, where she took classes to earn her medical certification. But it was during her senior year of high school when everything changed.
Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February 2018, student survivors came together to take a stand for stricter legislation to prevent gun violence. That March, they organized the March for Our Lives, the largest single day of protest against gun violence in history. It was this event that piqued Lambert’s interest into how youth activists are shaping the political discourse in the United States. Her interest in news and politics, and a love for writing, now became her focus.
“I was inspired by seeing so many people around me and my age who were interested in politics,” says Lambert, ’22 CLAS, a political science major, with minors in communication and public administration. “There’s been a lot been going on since the 2016 election, much of which has been led by Generation Z.”
Writing for Villanova’s chapter of the online news platform Odyssey, Lambert was discovered by Eric Koester, who helps college students and professionals publish books based on their passions through the Creator Institute at Georgetown University. Lambert spoke with Koester about youth activism, social media’s role with Gen Z and how it allows youth to mobilize at such high rates. It was during this time that the idea behind her forthcoming book, Voter Z, was born.
“Writing a book has always been on my bucket list,” Lambert said. “I just did not think it would happen when I was 20-years-old.”
Voter Z—scheduled to be published in April 2021—examines why Gen Z “thinks what they think,” and the events and phenomena that have shaped the generation and their political beliefs. Lambert defines Gen Z as anyone born between 1995 and 2012 and has an estimated population of 67 million. Major events like the 2008 recession and War in Iraq and societal issues, such as climate change and racial injustice, have thrust this generation of youth into engagement at the local and national levels.
Lambert’s book discusses how history moves in generational cycles. We are now seeing— and will continue to see— a shift to the younger generations playing a larger role in changing political discourse. She mentions Madison Cawthorn (the first Gen Z member in Congress) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (a model for how politicians can use social media) and Malala Yousafzai (Gen Z member on the global stage making a difference in politics) as influential figures for this generation.