Jazmine Fernandez comes from a low-income, single-parent family. She has four siblings and has always known that if she chose to go to college, she would have to pay her own way through it. And, she has always known that this wouldn’t be easy. Still, she has always been determined to do it.
“I wanted to go to college because to prove the statistics wrong,” she says, describing herself as: “A Mexican American who comes from divorced parents and has the crazy idea to major in computer science – the most competitive field for a girl to get into.”
This declaration first took shape two summers ago, when Jazmine was accepted into a Girls Who Code program in Silicon Valley. The program challenged her in a way she’d never experienced. “I was the only Latina there, and I felt out of place,” she says. “It was really hard for me.” She refused to quit, though, and wound up loving it.
Then last year, as a senior in high school, Jazmine was nominated for an Investment in Success scholarship through the California Masonic Foundation. She remembers walking into the interview offices along with a friend who had also been nominated. When she saw the other students waiting there, her stomach dropped. That feeling of self-doubt crept back in.
“I remember thinking: ‘What are we doing here? They won’t give scholarships to us, two girls from a small charter school in Oakland. People don’t want to hear what we have to say,’” she recalls. Her friend was nervous, too, and suggested they just walk away. For a long moment, Jazmine considered it. Then she found her courage. “No,” she told her friend. “We’ve accomplished a lot. We can do this.”
Both girls wound up receiving scholarships from the Foundation. And, Jazmine reports, receiving her scholarship made her feel more confident about what she wants to pursue and accomplish in her future.
Today, as a freshman at San Francisco State, Jazmine is the first in her family to attend college. It’s a responsibility she takes seriously.
“I want my younger brother, Rudy, to see that he can go to college as well,” she says. “I want to be a role model for Mexicans and Latinos, and help them reach for new things. I want to show them that it’s not impossible to follow your dreams, and have a career that you love.”
Investment in Success Scholarships that help young people like Jazmine are solely funded by California Masons’ generous support of the Annual Fund. GIVE TODAY to help these remarkable students have a chance to reach their potential and make the world a better place.
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