Jamira Burley, the former director of local affairs for Temple Student Government, has always had a connection to the Philadelphia community. Now, Burley is a full-time student and a full-time employee of the School District of Philadelphia, where she works as the student leadership coordinator.
Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Burley experienced a youth tainted by violence after she lost her brother and stepfather. In reaction, Burley got involved with community organizations to promote change. Her most recent role is as an alternate member of the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission. As the youngest member of the group, but with experience working with youth within the community, Burley stands out among the group’s members.
The Temple News: What do you hope to see in the future between the police and the members of the community?
Jamira Burley: I aim to not only hold police accountable for their actions but also [to] help to bridge the gap between the police and the community, specifically the youth population.
TTN: How were you selected to this position?
JB: Every candidate had to go though an application process for the second round of appointments. After that, each candidate had an opportunity to testify before City Council. City Council then made 20 recommendations from the application pool, and the mayor made the final selection.
TTN: What’s your involvement in other programs within the community?
JB: I was the 2009-10 chair of the Philadelphia Youth Commission. Currently, I chair the Education and Public Safety Committees for the commission. I am also vice president of the SEPTA Youth Advisory Committee and governor appointee to the Commission on Children and Families.
TTN: So you are a senior international business and legal studies major who also studies Chinese. How does that relate to what you’re doing now?
JB: When I originally started college, business and law were my interests. Now after working with young people and seeing some of the issues facing my community, I want to work more with public policy, in regards to education and youth violence.
TTN: How important is it for Temple students to get involved in their communities?
JB: It is very important for students who live in the community where they go to school to get involved. I want students to stop pretending they are outsiders and start taking hold of their block, neighborhood and city. People can’t change what they refuse to see.
TTN: What is something that you want to see happen in the future in the community?
JB: One thing I definitely want to see is that there is a mutual respect for the thoughts and concerns of everyone that is affected by an issue, and that we as a community start to take those thoughts and concerns and use them to our advantage when trying to solve the issues of today.
Keisha Frazier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.