Michigan State University’s mission is to advance knowledge and transform lives. One Spartan, through her participation and dedication, decided to uphold this university mission and take it another step further. From Tower Guard executive board member to co-president of the Council of Students with Disabilities (CSD) to a member of the Honors College and Social Science Scholars program, Jasmine J. has continued to focus on the intersectionality of racism and ableism, fighting for a higher quality of student lives and social environments here at MSU. With all her achievements and involvements, Jasmine will now continue to advocate for student populations abroad at the University of Cambridge, under her recently awarded Gates-Cambridge scholarship. As a spring 2021 graduating senior in the College of Social Science majoring in Political Science, with minors in Educational Studies and African & African American studies, Jasmine heads toward the Criminology department at Cambridge, researching high incarceration rates in the nation. Although she was uncertain about applying for the Gates-Cambridge scholarship, her desire to invoke changes throughout the U.S. incarceration system was motivation enough.
Jasmine shares: “I actually was apprehensive because I had not really considered Cambridge until a few weeks before the application for the Gates Cambridge was due. As amazing as a university that Cambridge is, I really had not thought about studying in England except at Oxford. I've never even been to Cambridge. The more I read about the Criminology department at Cambridge though, the more I wanted to apply. One of my professors really encouraged me to do it, so I actually applied last minute. I'm really glad I did!”
After four years of research at MSU, Jasmine decided that she wanted to spend more time researching the issue of mass incarceration, something that she recognizes “blights lives and communities,” before continuing on her journey toward becoming a civil rights attorney.
“I think mass incarceration is just one of those things that is in the periphery on most people's political opinions. Like if you ask, it is something that bothers them, but they don't actually recognize the scope of the problem,” expresses Jasmine. “I hope that anywhere I go, I continue to advocate for students with disabilities. Even with studying mass incarceration, I take special interest in the fact that people with disabilities are so disproportionately represented in prison populations, and I hope that my research can positively impact the system from that perspective as well.”
Jasmine, who was also previously awarded the RCPD Pysarchik and Samaritan scholarships, appreciates the continued recognition and opportunity to acquire her Masters of Philosophy in Criminological Research in her fight toward social justice.
“I am honestly just grateful to be here. No matter how hard I have worked, after meeting all the other students who have apply for these types of things, I recognize that there are hundreds of students nationwide who deserve these opportunities,” says Jasmine. “I am inwardly driven and even if I had not won, I would still be dedicated to positively impacting the incarceration system. I do think that like everyone, I deeply appreciate acknowledgement. It tells me that the work I want to do will help someone, that it is valued, that it could make things better. I think that is the best part about winning for me.”
As Jasmine prepares for her upcoming studies in England, she expresses:
“I have taken advantage of almost every part of student life here- from the more serious stuff like study abroad, internships research, and student advocacy to the less serious like season tickets to the football games, and dairy store trips. I cannot imagine that any of this would have happened had I not chosen to come to MSU, and I am grateful for everything that the university has done for me. I came to MSU in 2017, and since then I have seen a lot of changes in the university including it moving forward in a number of ways. I don't think there is much else that I can ask of MSU, but that it keep moving in that direction, it listen to marginalized communities on campus, and it tries to make campus life better for students like me.”