2010 Jasmine Caldwell

Jasmine “Jazz” Caldwell, a senior at Edison High School, once believed her family would always be together and happy.  But when Jasmine was seven years old, her father was arrested for raping her older sister.  Suddenly, Jasmine was swept up from her bed, hurried into a car, taken from her family and placed in a foster home.

She remembers the foster family kindly.  They treated her well and gave her a home.  But she also remembers crying herself to sleep – scared, lonely and wondering if she’d ever be reunited with her family.  After one long year, her mother brought Jasmine and her sister home.  But without her father’s income, poverty became their newest challenge.  Still, they were together and grateful to be a family once again.

Sorting out her father’s crime came slowly and painfully.  “That the man I called ‘Daddy’ was accused of child molestation sickened me.”  When friends asked what her father was in prison for, she avoided the truth, instead saying it was “a lot of things that just added up.”  But something changed for Jasmine when she wrote her Beat the Odds essay.  She wrote and rewrote it so many times, she came to accept what happened and felt she could share her secret.  Then, she sat her mom and sister down and read to them what she had written.  When she finished reading, she looked up and saw her mom and sister weeping.  They all cried and hugged and together realized that the secret they once hid no longer brought them shame.

Jasmine’s grandmother encouraged her to go after her dreams.  “She instilled in me that education was the ticket to my future.”   Determined to forge a better life for herself, Jasmine excels in schoolwork and activities.  She’s a model student, a three-sport athlete, an award winning cosmetology student, and participates in Admission Possible.  She plans on attending Dillard University where she wants to study math and physical education.  Jasmine reflects, “Life is what you make it.  Here’s my chance and I’m taking control of my life."