Jordan Artigas: Civics Partnered with History—How the Political Sausage Gets Made

By Hank McIntire

Jordan Artigas

        Jordan Artigas, Wood Research Assistant for the Quill Project at Utah Valley University.

Jordan Artigas, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is a Wood Research Assistant in the Center for Constitutional Studies at Utah Valley University.

He grew up on the east coast, but when it was time to go to college he looked west.

I struggled in high school back home in Florida,” said Jordan. “I didn’t know who I was. I found UVU, an open-enrollment institution, and I loved to snowboard. It was a great starting point and a change I needed to make.”

But his first stint at the university lasted only a year. “I had to figure a few things out, so I left UVU to just work.” He put in some time in retail and then found a position with Vivint SmartHome.

“In that job I learned to talk to people and matured a lot,” Jordan said. “I found that succeeding at work would translate to succeeding at school. I guess I needed the opposite of most people, who make good at school first and then at their job.”

With newfound confidence Jordan came back to UVU in January 2020. COVID hit partway through the semester, and all his on-campus classes switched to remote. “Jumping to online was difficult, but I ended up thriving,” he said. “I enjoyed it quite a bit.”

Jordan first heard of the Center for Constitutional Studies around that time. “I had always had an interest in the legal field, and I was especially focused on criminal law,” he recalled. “[Longtime Wood assistant] Danni Maddox told me about the Center. It sounded interesting, but right then I was busy with school and working at Walmart.”

His interest in constitutional law had been sparked in his courses with Dr. Rick Griffin, former director of CCS. “I fell in love with the work we were doing in the five classes I took from him. The material showed me what it was I loved about the law,” said Jordan.

But it wasn’t till 2022 that Cashlyn English, another Wood assistant at the Center, talked Jordan into hiring on. “I regret not coming sooner,” he said.

While at CCS, Jordan has worked on the state constitutional conventions of Illinois (1970), North Dakota (1889), and South Dakota (1889) as part of the Quill Project, which researches existing documentation of constitutional conventions and creates digital models as resources for legal scholars, attorneys, judges, elected officials, teachers, and students.

“I find the nature of politics to be fascinating,” he said. “I’m learning about problems people dealt with at the time. It makes me want to go work on Capitol Hill because in this job I get to see how the political sausage gets made.”

“I have learned so much here at CCS,” said Jordan. “It has made me more knowledgeable about civics—the things I missed in middle school and high school. The research and reading I do at the Center has shown me how people work through disagreements and come to a common consensus.”

The collaborative nature of the research being done at the Center forced Jordan to reevaluate how he thought and how he worked with others. “I would think my way was correct,” he said. “This process has helped me mature and appreciate the arguments that others have. We can have healthy discussions while doing the work.”

Jordan also sees how Center supporters make possible his own employment, as well as the impact such support will have on the up-and-coming generation.

“I feel tremendous gratitude to the donors,” he said. “What we do here is very important—it’s civics partnered with history. To have people willing to fund our research will instill those lessons in more young Americans. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Beyond CCS, Jordan has plans to go to law school next fall. “UC–Berkeley is at the top of my list, but I could end up on the east coast at someplace like Vanderbilt. But BYU is a real option—my fiancée is from Utah,” he said with a smile.

“I’ve loved my time working with Quill,” Jordan added, circling back to the present. “I would have come on board sooner had I known about it. This is work that needs to be done.”