Stepping Out with Confidence
Communities In Schools gave Jasmine Mann the confidence to excel in high school and move on to North Carolina Wesleyan College where she is confidently pursuing her dreams of a business career.
Nineteen-year-old Jasmine Mann is a bubbly, energetic freshman at North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount. She is majoring in business administration and is interested in marketing, fashion and modeling. She thinks she might like to own a business someday, but understands that working for others first will move her closer to that goal. In her spare time, she writes poetry, listens to music, participates in extracurricular activities and has a job at the school library through the college’s work-study program.
Not always a high achiever, Jasmine attributes her success to the caring adults and the College Access Program that Communities In Schools of the Rocky Mount Region connected her with when she was a student at Parker Middle School in Rocky Mount. An only child, Jasmine was raised by a single mom who worked hard and had high expectations for her daughter.
“Jasmine was a shy girl growing up,” said her mother, Jeri Mann. “She had some trouble reading in elementary school, but otherwise was a good student and kept up with the work.” By middle school, however, Mann said that Jasmine didn’t understand why it was important to make good grades or succeed. “She lacked confidence, and had no clear goals or motivation,” added Mann, who was concerned that her daughter needed personalized attention.
Edith Penny, the Communities In Schools site coordinator for Parker Middle School, recruited Jasmine for the Communities In Schools College Access Program and began meeting with her every day for 45 minutes during Jasmine’s seventh- and eighth-grade years. “Jasmine was a good candidate for the program, which identifies students who have academic potential, but may not be performing well due to peer, social or home-life issues,” said Penny.
After several meetings with Jasmine, Penny discovered that Jasmine was afraid of her teachers, as well as of her classmates and what they might think of her. “She seemed very self-conscious and withdrawn,” said Penny.
To improve her self-esteem, Jasmine attended Communities In Schools life skills classes during the school day with others in the program. The classes helped the group of 10–12 students develop critical thinking on issues such as self-identity, communication skills, peer relations, working with teachers and team building. Penny also arranged for Jasmine to meet with a mentor once a week. “When Jasmine started realizing that she could do well in her schoolwork and that it was okay to ask questions, that’s when we began to see a change in her.”
Jasmine also struggled with math, so she received academic tutoring through Communities In Schools. In addition, Penny became Jasmine’s “school mom,” and helped her with homework when Jasmine’s mother frequently had to work late. College Access Program students spend seventh and eighth grade on a college-focused path. By high school, the Communities In Schools counselors work closely with students in the program to help them negotiate the college application process and seek out financial assistance.
During high school, Jasmine was introduced to the College Foundation of North Carolina website and Federal Application for Student Aid resources for college grants and scholarships. Eventually, Jasmine obtained several scholarships and grants, including a President’s Award, as well as AmeriCorps, North Carolina Wesleyan College Honors Program and sorority scholarships.
She chose North Carolina Wesleyan because it’s close to home and family, and a smaller school where people know her name. “I’m a small-school kind of person,” she laughed.
“Before Communities In Schools, I didn’t think I would go to college,” Jasmine said. With the help of Communities In Schools services, she gained the confidence to want to achieve, and taking the path to higher education was the logical next step. “I’m the second in my family – after my uncle – to attend college,” she said proudly.
Jeri Mann is also proud, and very appreciative of what Communities In Schools has done for her daughter. “The Communities In Schools staff cared about Jasmine as a whole person, showing concern and encouraging her along the way. They helped her become more outgoing, and opened her mind to being her own person and approaching things she wanted. Communities In Schools helped tell Jasmine who she was, and who she needed to be – a strong and confident young lady.”
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