Jasmyn Jordan – 2021 Live Más Scholarship Recipient, Honors Bachelor’s Student at the University of Iowa, and champion for civil justice
“I aim to be a role model. To demonstrate to all Black youth that being individualistic and following their passions can create a plethora of change.” This powerful statement has become 2021 Live Más Scholarship recipient Jasmyn Jordan’s mantra as she has evolved into a champion of civil justice.
Jasmyn’s journey with activism began in high school. Like most high school students, Jasmyn became involved in various school organizations, activities, and advanced coursework. Jasmyn says the more she got involved, the more she noticed the lack of diversity within these organizations. Jasmyn says she realized this was a significant issue for other Black students in her community. “I believe it is necessary to be productive and engaged in something, whether that be schoolwork, a job, or a club,” said Jasmyn. “Involvement increases your success after graduation and helps you positively contribute to society by simultaneously benefiting yourself and others.”
Jasmyn says she recognized a need in her community for a space where Black students could learn to utilize their power and feel comfortable to share their voices. “I wanted them to be self-determined and know that they can make choices by themselves because they know what is best for themselves,” said Jasmyn.
In response, Jasmyn founded the first Black student union at her high school, the Normal West Black Student Union. The Union aims to ensure that Black students feel welcome and cared for in various spaces and environments. She says she wanted the Normal West Black Student Union to encourage Black students to get involved in the numerous opportunities.
In the summer of 2020, Jasmyn and the Normal West Black Student Union continued to be the change they wanted to see in their community. They hosted a rally that demanded Black Education be taught regularly in public schools. Jasmyn stated, “We need to learn Black history every year, month, and day, not just during Black History Month. When Black history is taught, it gives Black students a sense of identity. Black students learn who they are, where they come from, and how others positively contributed to society.”
As a direct result of their determination, Jasmyn and the Normal West Black Student Union created a course at their high school dedicated to teaching Black history. Jasmyn has also had numerous conversations with the school’s superintendent, principal, and several teachers to discuss Black history and literature in school curriculums and how to be more inclusive.
And the work did not stop there. The Normal West Black Student Union has partnered with many other community organizations and nonprofits, including West Bloomington Revitalization Project, The Boys and Girls Club, The Center for Hope’s Joy of Giving Event, Bloomington-Normal Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to create a positive impact in their community beyond the school walls. The Normal West Black Student Union has also inspired other schools, including four nearby junior high schools, to start their own Black Student Unions.
Jasmyn is now a first-year honors student at the University of Iowa, where she is majoring in Criminology on the Pre-Law Track and is creating a Black Undergraduate Law Society. After graduation, she says she hopes to attend law school and become a juvenile justice attorney. The positive impact she has seen by establishing the Normal West Black Student Union has inspired her to pursue a career in the juvenile justice system. Eventually, Jasmyn wishes to leverage her experiences to open her own practice supporting underrepresented youth.
Jasmyn has placed importance on community wherever she goes, and her experience with the Live Más Scholarships is no different. Jasmyn says the Live Más Scholarship and Taco Bell Foundation have allowed her to attend college, prepare for a career in law, network with professionals, take on leadership roles, and set her sights on a future focused on doing good. Along the way, she has found a circle of students within the Live Más Scholarship community that shares a similar drive, commitment, and desire to lead. Jasmyn says learning the stories of other scholars has inspired her to consider starting a nonprofit organization tied to foster care and the juvenile justice system.
Jasmyn has a piece of advice for aspiring changemakers, activists, and leaders: take initiative and don’t wait for someone else to step up. “You may be the first and only person to notice a problem or even the sole person who cares enough about the issue. Therefore, your perspective and background can enable you to create a solution.”
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