Major: Social Work
The Foundation: Last time we heard from you, you were sharing your experience at ScholarCon last year. What lessons from the event are you still using?
Jasmeen: I learned tons of useful lessons at ScholarCon, but the main things I’ve implemented are bringing a sense of community to the student organizations I am a part of and reminding myself to face adversity head on.
To bring a sense of community to the organizations I’m an active member of, — Student Social Work Association (SSWA), SIUE Black Girls Rock, the Vice Chancellor’s Office’s SIUE 1st Generation program — I have encouraged hosting more social events for their members. For example, I helped develop an SSWA Social event at Edison’s Entertainment Complex. This helped our members and their family and friends have a chance to mix, mingle, and have fun. We raised about $500, which will be dispersed amongst several of our charity efforts.
One prominent thing that I have recognized is nearly every student faces adversity. When the motivational speaker at ScholarCon said to “face adversity head on,” that really stuck with me. I was struggling to get my E-Guarantee scholarship back at the time (which had been taken away because of budget cuts at SIUE). As I boarded the plane to ScholarCon, I was on the phone with a financial aid advisor at SIUE and I had been communicating with them for a month prior. I was almost ready to give up, but hearing the stories of adversity from students working just as hard as me and getting the bit of reassurance for the speaker made me want to keep pushing for the funds that I deserved.
A couple of weeks after ScholarCon, I was able to get people at my internship (at the Office of the Inspector General for DCFS) to help me advocate to regain my scholarship. Luckily, they were able to assist me and I regained my scholarship before the semester began. Consequently, I always tell students that there will be challenges and failures, but they must never give up. Always advocate for yourself and develop allies along the way.
What’s been your greatest accomplishment this school year, outside and inside the classroom?
During the spring semester, I was chosen for an undergraduate research assistantship position. I consider this an outstanding accomplishment because I am completing research with the director of the bachelors of social work program. She was one of my most challenging professors that I have encountered at college.
My main accomplishment outside of the classroom, is I have been accepted into three graduate social work programs at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), and Loyola University in Chicago. UIUC has offered me a tuition waiver for two of the three semesters I will have to complete.
We’re very proud to share that you’ve had a 4.0 GPA your entire college career! What are some general tips for success you can share with other scholars?
The main things I stress are: grades matter, scholars must build connections on campus, and everyone will encounter conflicts (intrapersonal and interpersonal).
As a graduating senior, what are your future plans?
My plan is to attend and complete graduate school by the summer of 2017. I applied to four social work graduate programs (SIUE, UIUC, Loyola, and UIC) and I will be making a decision on which program to attend in early April. After that, I plan to work for at least a year within my career field — primarily with youth and families —and attend law school soon after. Eventually, I want to work in an administrative social work position in which I can utilize my future law degree.
What are you most excited for life after college?
I am extremely excited to begin my career of helping people, and giving back to my community and the people that have invested so much time and energy in my journey. On the other hand, I am very nervous because I am entering an “unknown” realm of life for me and my family. As a first generation college student, I have made many life decisions on my own, but I believe life after undergrad is when the true “adulting” begins. I hope to meet success in that journey, as well.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I would like to thank the Pullman Foundation tremendously for believing in me and providing me with this scholarship and several opportunities along the way. I graduated from high school with a 4.5 GPA and made it to the finalist round for four major private scholarships, but only received the Pullman Scholarship after returning from my college orientation at SIUE. Before receiving the letter from Pullman, I felt defeated and that my accomplishments were meaningless because I attended a struggling, impoverished school. The Pullman Foundation gave me hope and has been an inspirational support network throughout undergrad; I am forever grateful.