Making Changes


Making change:
Jax Richards overcomes a challenging past to create a better future.

Jax“Statistically speaking, I shouldn’t be at college. My personal best achievement is just keeping myself motivated and dedicated to bettering myself and my community.”

Jax Richards

Jax Richards is only in his second year at Oregon State University, but he is already a leading advocate for change on campus.

Jax, an economics and public policy major in the Honors College, is the founder of Safeguard Youth, a nonprofit advocating for youth and survivors of child abuse. He is working with state Sen. Sara Gelser and Oregon State University to expand the organization beyond OSU.

Jax began Safeguard Youth after experiencing child abuse and neglect while growing up in Beaverton. He wants his nonprofit to improve Oregon’s current child welfare systems and be a voice for those who have experienced or continue to experience abuse and neglect. He has met with multiple nonprofit leaders, policymakers and department directors to advocate for change.

Jax continues to stay busy. In 2020, he completed a fellowship with the Biden presidential campaign and was part of the Willamette Valley Legislative Fellowship, led by state Rep. Dan Rayfield. He is an intern for U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio and serves as the student representative on the OSU Board of Trustees. And he continues to work on his honors thesis focusing on child welfare reform, which he started during his first year.

Referring to his unstable and difficult childhood, “statistically speaking, I shouldn’t be at college,” Jax says. “My personal best achievement is just keeping myself motivated and dedicated to bettering myself and my community.”

In his free time, Jax enjoys hanging out with his emotional support turtle, Ginsburg, named after the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Like many students at Oregon State, Jax found the abrupt transition to remote learning in spring 2020 challenging. But he has persevered, with one of his favorite Honors College classes for fall term being A Data Geek’s Guide to the 2020 Election.

“Ultimately, I’ve found peace in knowing that these are going to be unpredictable and changing times, and I’m making the most of it possible!” he says. “The Honors College has been great with their communication and service throughout this whole process, and I’m proud to still be working with them and be one of their students.”

Story by Cara Nixon — Honors College student writer