Her Generation: SPFHS Graduate Jen Lambert to publish Voter Z in Spring 2021


Emily Wyrwa, Feature Editor

Jen Lambert, a student of political science at Villanova University, was in Mr. Koegel’s AP Calculus AB course at 9:59 a.m. on March 14, 2018. She doesn’t remember what Koegel’s lesson was on that day, only the tense air in the room as the clock ticked closer to 10:00. 
It had officially been one month since the deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, and the students of Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School planned to join the masses of their generation and walk out of school in solidarity. 
“I remember everyone was kind of buzzing about it,” Lambert said.
When the clock turned to 10:00, it took a moment for one of the AP Calc students to rise, but when that student did, many of her classmates followed suit. Much of the school walked out, including Lambert, joined by their generational peers from across the nation. 
“I thought that that was a really cool moment,” Lambert said. “Not just at Scotch Plains, but you know, seeing other high schools across the country and really across the world participate in that–I thought it was really special.”
Less than three years later, Lambert plans to release her first book Voter Z in the spring of 2021. Her novel centers around the stories of her generation and the ways in which Gen Z will inevitably become a political force. She drew inspiration from a culmination of her generational experiences and was compelled to write to be a “storyteller” for her generation.
Lambert could not have anticipated that this book was going to be her path just a few short years after graduating high school. She originally planned to pursue nursing, until her career plan took a massive U-turn when she took AP US Government and Politics senior year. 
“I think my peers would say I was very heavily interested in politics,” Lambert said. “That was my reputation, like, in school it was ‘Okay. This girl is really interested in politics all the time.’ [I was] probably kind of annoying at times in class, getting into debates with people and stuff.” 
Although Lambert’s interest in politics was present throughout high school, she credits her writing to the support she received from her English teachers at SPFHS, specifically Randy Koetzner, her junior year AP English teacher. 
“…Getting positive feedback from [Mr. Koetzner] on my writing all the time, and him encouraging me and telling me that I’m a good writer [was huge for me],” Lambert said. “One of my college professors, last semester, took me aside and was like, ‘you’re a great writer,’ and I was like, ‘thank you so much.’ He’s like, ‘Don’t thank me. Thank your high school English teachers.’ So when I wrote my email to Mr. Koetzner about my book, I said to him, ‘This is me thanking you now, for all of the encouragement and advice that you gave me, because I really do believe that you made me a better writer.’ And I don’t think I would be where I am today without teachers like him.”
Lambert’s book illuminates what she believes is the true Gen. Z political experience. She interviewed “Gen Zers” from across the political spectrum, from all walks of life, from all across America; the way she did so uniquely encapsulates the skill set of her generation.
“It’s amazing what the internet can do for you,” Lambert said. “That’s really the moral of the story. People ask, ‘how did you find these people? Like you’re talking to people who live in Florida and Ohio and Texas and Southern California? Like, how do you know them?’ And I’m like, I don’t know them. I know people who know people who know people…. I talked to my friend in Iowa, he connected me with someone in Indiana. The guy in Indiana connected me with someone in Florida who connected me with someone in Ohio. It’s amazing the way that the internet, in particular, can be utilized as a platform for communication with people that you normally would never come into contact with.”
Lambert hopes Voter Z can “subvert the narrative that young people are not interested in and participating in politics on a state, local and national level,” she said. “That narrative is just not true. And it’s too common.”
She believes that for the future of politics to be secure, young people’s political participation must be legitimized, and fewer barriers must stand in the way of Generation Z’s ability to become involved in the political process.
“I think that this generation is uniquely poised to create and undertake massive changes to existing institutions, including political ones,” Lambert said. “I am really hopeful about what the future looks like under Generation Z’s leadership.”
Lambert encourages SPF students to order her book here and connect with her via Instagram @jenlambert_  to learn more about Voter Z.
Photo courtesy of Jen Lambert