"[I'm] not only making [my] own dream a reality, but helping others’ dreams as well."
Growing up in the neighborhood, Jasmine dreamed of attending the University of Southern California. At age 11, her dream was deferred the day she received news that she would have to live with her grandmother. Although living with their grandmother, Jasmine was tasked with caring for her younger siblings. She washed their clothes, prepared their food, and worked to earn enough money for the essentials. When Jasmine was able to return to her mother’s home, Jasmine experienced extreme negativity and was eventually kicked out. From a friend’s house to sleeping in an alley, Jasmine finally found the courage to refer herself to a shelter. She was taken into care, moved a couple of times and finally found the stability she needed at the Los Angeles Youth Network (group home). It was there that she repaired her GPA, got involved in the community and reclaimed her desire to attend college by applying to United Friends of the Children’s (UFC) College Sponsorship Program.
Jasmine joined the UFC Family in 2010. Although she was nervous at first about whether or not she would find her place, Jasmine made very good use of her undergraduate years. She volunteered as a mentor with the Joint Educational Project (JEP) working in the same elementary school she attended, interned at the Department of Children and Family Services in Los Angeles through UFC’s Summer Internship Program, awarded as a Norman Topping Scholar and was invited to study homelessness abroad in Japan as part of the “America in Japan” program. She was also invited to present a paper at the Annual American Studies Association Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico in November 2012 and named an Opportunity Nation Scholar, for which she traveled to New York City to participate in the organization’s panel “From Access to Completion: Starting Early, Staying in School and Earning a Credential” at Columbia University. Additionally, Jasmine has taken advantage of numerous opportunities to do research and share findings on foster youth support networks; she was awarded a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF), has presented at conferences at UCLA and UC Berkeley, and participated in a Summer Research Training Program at the University of Chicago last summer.
Now a senior at the University of Southern California majoring in Sociology and double minoring in American Studies, and Ethnicity and Children and Families in Urban America, Jasmine is not only making her own dream a reality but helping others’ dreams as well. Through her own experience and research, she continued to see the need for a foster youth program on the USC campus. Jasmine teamed up with mentor, George Sanchez, and other USC faculty to create Trojan Guardian Scholars (TGS). TGS launched in the fall of 2013 and is already servicing its first cohort of Guardian Scholars. TGS received a $75,000 grant that will be used to provide summer internships when students do not receive financial aid. The Trojan Guardian Scholars program assists undergraduate students in their goal of attaining a USC Bachelor’s Degree and provides a comprehensive program to assist each individual student’s needs.
Needless to say, we are all incredibly proud of Jasmine’s academic accomplishments, but possibly even more, her deep commitment to making this world better for youth. Jasmine will be graduating this year and aspires to apply for a Ph.D. program in American Studies and Ethnicity (ASE) in the near future. She hopes to become an expert on foster youth research and educational practice through an ASE perspective.