By S. Jolene Hui, MSW, LCSW, Membership Director
Jacob Fraker was selected as one of only six fellows for the Equality California-Comcast Fellowship earlier this spring.
For the fellowship, he was placed with Senator Henry Stern (representing California’s 27th District) where he worked for four weeks gaining experience answering phones, doing paper work, prepping bills, staffing the senator in committee and on the floor, researching and analyzing bills, and meeting with lobbyists.
Equality California describes the program as “…a leadership development program in which six exceptional LGBTQ or ally college students are placed in the offices of California legislators or other government officials. Fellows gain first-hand experience working with legislators, government officials and their staff, and develop key leadership skills. Their presence increases LGBTQ visibility in the Capitol and gives government officials direct interaction with members of the LGBTQ community.”
Fraker is currently finishing up his BASW at San Jose State University, but has been working in the nonprofit and advocacy field since he was in high school. He was born and raised in Sonora and—prior to birth—diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a terminal respiratory illness. Because of this, he had a medical social worker in his life, “who helped guide and direct me,” he says.
“As a member of the LGBTQ community myself, I lived a closeted life for 23 years in Sonora, as it was not a safe place to be out. I was not able to help myself for most of my life, so I became determined to help others with theirs. My passion in life was fighting, advocating and helping all those around me.”
His persistent need to give back manifested itself into a social work career. Starting in high school and continuing into college, Fraker has done work with nonprofit organizations such as the Center for a Non-Violent Community (CNVC), the Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency (ATCAA), the Tuolumne County Women’s Network, and has taught and mentored for Mountain Storm Jujitsu. He’s also worked at the family shelter with the Homeless Service Center in Santa Cruz.
This fall, he will intern with the UCSF mental and behavioral health department in its community outreach section. Additionally, he is working with the Cystic Fibrosis Research Institute to help create and run a legislative department, and may have an internship with Lucas Public Affairs this coming winter. CNVC allowed Fraker to create and implement anti-bullying programs in schools, which included a focus on “strength based leadership and removal of barriers, stigma and stereotypes in all aspects of the community.”
“I cannot thank them enough for their support and willingness to let a teenager run wild within their agency,” he adds.
Fraker has been involved with NASW-CA since he transferred to SJSU last fall when he signed up to be the liaison for the undergraduate association. Also, for NASW-CA he has been a team leader at Legislative Lobby Days, and has been working on a project with Director of Legislative Affairs Rebecca Gonzales.
Career wise, Fraker says he will go wherever he is needed most and wherever challenges him, as he enjoys, “high-intensity” positions. He has global aspirations for social work and wants to see social workers working everywhere worldwide from “conflict zones and refugee camps to more leadership roles in organizations like the U.N. and diplomatic and state departments.”
Fraker believes social workers are the moral compasses of their communities.
“There is so much work to be done in this world, and social workers are the ones who should be leading the charge.”
Jolene Hui, MSW, LCSW is NASW-CA’s membership director and can be reached at email@example.com.