Jasmine Salazar does her best to be a beacon for her two younger sisters, who are in elementary and middle school. As the first member of her family to attend college, she knows their eyes are on her as she navigates this experience.
“My dad has always told me that I am their role model,” she explains. “So, I try to be a positive light for them. I tell them how I’m adjusting to school and that they have to do well in school, too, so they can do well in college.”
Her sisters, along with her parents, have visited her on campus several times since she enrolled this fall.
Speaking about her decision to attend college, Jasmine explains, “I always had something in me that told me I was going to go to school. I’ve always liked learning and pursing a higher education just felt like it was right for me. And my parents have always stressed the importance of having an education because they want me to be better than where I come from.”
Jasmine attended Gordon Central High School in Calhoun, Ga. Even though she calls Calhoun her hometown, she identifies with her parents’ experiences living in Los Angeles. Her parents moved to Calhoun right before Jasmine was born. Knowing about her parents’ previous urban lifestyle piqued her curiosity about city life.
“I’ve always wanted to move to the city,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to live in a place where I can meet different people.”
Located in the heart of downtown, Georgia State’s urban campus fits the bill. A freshman, Jasmine lives on campus in Piedmont North. Although her parents were initially concerned about safety downtown, they trusted their daughter’s choice.
“They know I have a good head on my shoulders,” she says.
Having Her Family’s Support and Branching Out
Her parents have learned to trust Jasmine’s decisions in more ways than one.
“To be honest, my parents wanted me to go to school, but they didn’t want me to go away,” she explains. “So, they were supportive but they were also kind of taken back by my decision at the same time… After I got accepted [to Georgia State] and got the scholarship [Coca-Cola First-Generation Scholarship], they accepted it and that made it easier for me.”
Her parents are really supportive now that she’s here and Jasmine goes home to Calhoun when her parents miss her. In the meantime, she tries to enjoy all of the activities offered at Georgia State.
She says, “There’s always something going on, so if you find yourself bored, then you know you’re not doing something right. There’s always something you can go do. There are always events on campus.”
Jasmine intends to declare a major in public policy, with the long-term goal of going to law school and eventually practicing civil rights law. This semester she’s working as a student assistant in the College of Law.
The College of Law’s new home has also played a part in being the best thing she’s discovered about Georgia State’s campus. The outdoor terrace on the fifth floor has become her favorite study spot.
“It looks over Woodruff Park and all the buildings are right there… it’s just really cool to go sit down and study there,” she says.
Finding Her Way
Jasmine wants other potential first-generation students to know they’re not alone.
She says, “They’re not the only ones doing this… I know for me at times, it was hard to fully have my parents’ support because its hard for them to completely understand what I’m trying to do… Just know that if you have it within yourself, then you can do anything… Just because you lack support in one area, doesn’t mean that you lack it within yourself.”
Like a lot of successful students, Jasmine has learned the importance of creating structure in her schedule.
“I thought college life would be really difficult… I was expecting a bunch of work, and that did happen, but I figured out how to prioritize my time,” she shares.
In addition to time management and prioritizing tasks, Jasmine has also helped herself by speaking with her professors outside of class during office hours.