Hello! My name is Jasmine Rangel and a month ago, my elevator speech would have started a bit like: “I am a current student and Bonner Scholar at Berry College in Rome Georgia, working towards my degree in Political Science.” Recently the term, “alumna” that was given to me at the beginning of May 2017, has come to launch me into an unknown world of new adjustments, adventures, learning and growing experiences. Aside from the professional aspect of my identity, I am originally from the Atlanta, Georgia area and have hobbies that vary from writing to record-store pursuing. I also consider myself a very amateur coffee connoisseur, a committed advocate to empowering causes, and a champion for the craft of formulating perfect playlists.
What arose from the opportunity that was granted to me at Berry, and the investment I returned to students and the outside Rome/Floyd County community, left me astounded after reflecting the quick destination after such a powerful journey. It was daunting when thinking back to how a mere sense of place and that very community of people, could start to orient my feet towards the path my life was destined to take. During the weekdays in the town of rolling hills, I was tirelessly trying to find a way to connect an academic passion of all things Political Science and Gender Studies, with a relentless craving to serve the neighbors that have been silenced in our very own communities. I had devoted myself to service across a variety of areas both on and off of campus. On campus, I loved developing the leadership and work skills of students in our Berry Bonner program. Off campus, I found joy in the eagerness young Hispanic children had to excel in learning basic math and reading skills; I embraced the strong, kindred spirits of a local foster care group home; I found joy in helping mold the young minds of the South Rome Early Learning Center; I found empowerment, fulfillment, and genuine healing while assisting at the Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia. Before the last two months of my Bonner career at Berry, I would have told you how incredibly difficult it was to really place a finger on my greatest and most transformative experience; I had several. But one that left me speechless and so full of gratitude happened in April 2017.
While on the Leadership team at Berry, we have this enthralling social action program where we devote our time to researching, advocating, and serving a pressing issue in our local community and or, our nation. My senior year, Giuliana Fernandez, another Berry Bonner Scholar, and I tackled an issue that was ever-present in our own lives from the time of birth. As co-leaders of our “Hispanic Communities” Issue-Based team, comprised of 14 Berry students of different years and backgrounds, were able to revolutionize the conversations that were occurring cross campus in regards to immigration. We decided as a group how important it would be to have some catalyst for change, even at the local level and brainstormed a College Access workshop that targeted existing and potential DACA students in the Rome community. We worked relentlessly to allocate all of the resources we could to help students navigate the process of applying, affording, and succeeding in college. After two different sessions, we were able to help 12 individual students and 14 families gain the courage and hope that their dreams for their children in reaching higher education and professional potential were truly possible. I was left knowing that our service, although small in impact, was priceless in value for all of those involved.
I made the huge adventure across the east coast to Princeton, New Jersey at the end of May following SLI, and while this is my first time living this far away from anything familiar, I am so thrilled for the adventures that lie ahead with this opportunity provided by Bonner. One of the things that I am looking forward to the most is completely immersing myself in the world of Bonner, learning the initiatives occurring at each and every campus all over the world, and providing the brain power to the foundation of initiatives necessary to mobilize everything that stands to be Bonner. Through the power of social media, I hope that we will be able to integrate the National Bonner Network in a way that makes even the furthest of campuses seem like the most familiar friends.