Making a Difference: Helping Alabama with Health Care

Alumnus Jake Miner leads a volunteer training at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) for the non-profit organization Bama Covered. (Photo: Courtesy Bama Covered)

Alumnus Jake Miner leads a volunteer training session at the University of Alabama-Birmingham for the non-profit organization Bama Covered. (Photo: Bama Covered)

Current New Yorker Jake Miner, ESIA BA ’12, has a hectic schedule these days; this past fall, he began the master’s in public administration program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

But if you think Miner (who will graduate from Columbia in 2015) was ready to relax during his winter break, think again. Instead, he was off to Alabama to help the non-profit organization Bama Covered get off the ground.

Bama Covered is a non-partisan organization with a mission to help educate uninsured Alabamians about their healthcare options. It also offers college students a unique opportunity to get involved in outreach efforts and make a difference in Alabama’s communities.

Miner’s connection to Bama Covered began in the summer of 2011, when he was interning at the White House. There, he met fellow interns and future Bama Covered founders Josh Carpenter and Dan Liss.

“I had just returned from my semester abroad in Syria, and, upon learning GW was going to support me with a Shapiro Public Service Award, decided to take the internship,” says Miner. “Josh was on summer break from his position with Teach for America, and Dan was working for the administration before taking a position in Mayor Bloomberg’s office in New York City. The three of us became instant friends.”

A few years later, when Carpenter and Liss were looking for help during Bama Covered’s launch, Miner was at the top of their list.

“I didn’t hesitate to help,” says Miner. “I believe people have the right to make health care decisions for themselves and their families without the interference of politics, and I’m passionate about leveraging the energies and eagerness of college students to promote community change.”

And while the three friends met in the White House, Miner emphasizes that Bama Covered is strictly non-partisan, with a mission that encompasses all Alabamians, regardless of political affiliation. “The only ‘O’ word used in the Bama Covered office,” Miner says, “‘is options.’”

 Jake Miner (right), Bama Covered co-founder Josh Carpenter (center) and a Bama Covered team member (left) gather during Minder's volunteer stint with the organization.

Jake Miner (right), Bama Covered co-founder Josh Carpenter (center) and a Bama Covered team member (left) gather during Miner’s volunteer stint with the organization.

In December 2013, Miner set off for a several weeks on the ground in Alabama, where he served as the Bama Covered chief of staff.  But he went in with the mindset that he’d help in any way he could, so he did everything from directing volunteer trainings to getting lunch for the team.

Throughout his time with Bama Covered, Miner was inspired by the every day interactions he had with college students and volunteers, who he says demonstrated tremendous passion for moving Alabama forward.

He also says it was a learning experience. “We found that an overwhelming amount of people simply didn’t know about their options under the new law,” he explains, “and we saw how little support there was for people to inform themselves.”

Come January, it was time for Miner to return to New York and resume his studies, but his work with Bama Covered isn’t finished—he’ll remain involved in a consulting capacity, as the mission is close to his heart.

This desire to serve is a common theme in Miner’s life, and something that bolstered his time at GW. As a sophomore, he helped establish Grassroots Colonials, an offshoot of The Grassroot Project, which educates at-risk DC youth about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention through Division I “student-athlete” role models.

Miner was also a student worker in what was then known as GW’s Office of Government, International and Community Relations, where he earned invaluable hands-on experience.

“Being at GW made me far more civically-minded,” Miner explains. “Having been out a few years now, it’s clear to me that GW’s positioning forces students to confront what community means and how civic action is taking place all around us all the time. The people I met at GW inspired me to get out into my world and figure out how to make a difference.”

–Melissa Nyman

Want to get involved? Learn more and connect with Bama Covered: Facebook | Twitter

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