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Jasmine Smith spent 7 years in Pennsylvania's Foster Care System.

Former foster child Jasmine Smith has a long and impressive history of academic success. In high school her grades earned her a place in the National Honor Society and National Beta Society. Now she is a junior at Pennsylvania State University maintaining a 3.73 GPA. After graduation, Jasmine plans to pursue a graduate degree in Speech Language Pathology at a California or New York institution of higher learning. She wants to be an example for other foster youth and show them that life after 18 is do-able if you find the right resources and set your mind on achieving a college degree. It’s not just academic success that makes Jasmine stand out; she also has an impressive record of community involvement. For the past two years she has served as the Business Manager for the on campus newsletter. Since she arrived on campus, she has mentored other students of color through the S-Plan organization. She has a passion for glass art and works with varying spectrums of stained glass to create portraits of landscapes. In addition to art, she enjoys documentaries, restaurant tasting, reading, writing and outdoor activities. As a certified outdoor leader, she leads groups of students on pursuits such as hiking, camping, canoeing, etc. She also makes a mean smore! During the summer, Jasmine worked as a nurse’s assistant at a children’s camp. It was her job to help screen every child (768 in total) for health needs in addition to patching them up from minor cuts and abrasions. She writes; “During these short visits, I got a chance to learn the childrens’ names, interests, and problems. What I learned is that all they really needed was a free ear, undivided attention, and constructive criticism on how to categorize their successes and fix their failures.” When Jasmine was in foster, she looked for adult who could be there for her in the same way. Jasmine understands how important it is for foster youth to have a voice. She spent 7 years in foster care starting from the day she was born. Despite the many adults who tried to pressure her into forgetting her biological mom and focusing on a new life with her foster family, Jasmine knew reunification was the best option. She’s grateful that her mom worked hard to get her back and the adults around her were responsive to her wishes. Jasmine says, “In my case, being reunited with my mother was extraordinary gift that the foster system provides around the country to children and parents needing a second chance. It was the bond I shared with my mom and the desire not to forget that led to me finally living with her, out of the foster care system for good at the age of 6.” Jasmine knows other children in foster care are not as willing or able to advocate for themselves. That’s why she wants to reach out and help them find their voices. She says, “Since foster children are the main focus of the system it is only makes sense they receive a voice in the system designed to benefit them.” She wants to facilitate change and be a voice for the children who haven’t quite found theirs yet. Perhaps her professor sums it up best: “Jasmine is a warm, caring individual who demonstrates support for her peers on a daily basis. I’ve worked with hundreds of students over the years, and very few students rival Jasmine’s desire and ability to make a positive difference in the world.”

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