“As the first day of school approached I was more and more convinced that I should drop out even before the first bell rang… I was going nowhere fast.”
On March 27th, Jasmine Valdez took the podium to tell her story to 700+ guests during our 14th Annual Scholarship Dinner, “Crafting Future Careers.”
The third-year GSS student from Phineas Banning High School shared her history of bad habits that started in middle school. She associated with the wrong crowd, skipped school, came home late, and experimented with drugs.
“I didn’t care who was affected by my mistakes, and laughed when people were hurt by the things I said and did,” said Jasmine.
It was hard to believe that the confident, young woman on stage was once a poor student who made bad decisions. As she exposed her less-than-perfect past through every completed sentence, she grew closer to completing her final “challenge” – an acceptance speech.
Jasmine received the night’s memorable “Carol Rowen 180 Degree Award,” a recognition presented to the ITEP student who demonstrates the most dramatic turn-around.
Three years ago, with guidance from a close friend, Jasmine joined the GSS Academy. Soon after, she separated herself from the bad influences and substances and joined a new crowd, one composed of college-bound students willing to learn and industry leaders willing to coach. Her grades began to improve.
Jasmine went from a 1.5 GPA to a college-bound student and GSS academy council member. Her lunchtime now consisted of planning GSS events and activities with her peers.
“I am now meeting graduation requirements and was accepted to most of the colleges of my choice, ” added Jasmine.
“There is always hope, and always a second chance. It is never too late to pursue your dreams. If you work hard, everything is possible.”
Applause broke out.
Jasmine is an example of why we continue to bring industry professionals and students together to network and share a family-style meal. We unite the key puzzle pieces in our community to build stronger neighborhoods, youth and leaders. Yes, the scholarship awards are the treat of the night, but the interactions that begin and follow allow our ITEP “family” to craft future careers and fuel countless of college dreams.
In a few years, Jasmine will cross a stage for a second time – to accept her college diploma. We’re sure of that and so is she. We thank you for setting the stage and providing the inspiration.
Congratulations to Jasmine and all our 2014 scholarship winners and honorees!
Click through our event photos to see other great moments from our 14th Annual Scholarship Dinner, “Crafting Future Careers.”