I am pleased to nominate Jasmin Yangwaue for this important recognition of community-engaged students who are changemakers and public problem-solvers. Jasmin values both civic and academic engagement. As an honors student and Political Science major, she has been compelled to examine inequities in educational outcomes for Minnesota students of color. As a student of color in the Minnesota public educational system, Jasmin herself witnessed the barriers to a quality education, and wants to help Minnesota create a more just system by improving its outcomes. Jasmin understands how complex systems can be to change. She realizes that to create long-lasting change, she cannot just focus on educational outcomes. She must also work on increasing voter participation and representation on school boards as this intersects with outcomes, especially for students of color. For this reason, she is currently studying and working to create policy that will both address active civic engagement and promote educational opportunity to all. Jasmin is an excellent listener and remains relentlessly optimistic about creating change to build equitable communities. Upon graduation, she plans to attend graduate school to study public policy and law, which will enable her to continue to advocate for equal educational opportunities for all students.
All children deserve equal access to educational opportunities. My family resettled in the United States after being displaced by the Secret War in Laos. We learned first-hand that education offers a seat at the table to correct injustice by making changes to systems that oppress people. Through my research and experiences in the educational system in Minnesota, I found vast disparities in education quality and graduation rates between students of color and white students. St. Catherine University’s mission statement “to lead and influence” and the values of social justice further ingrained in me that everyone has the capability of being an advocate and leader. As the Organizational Affairs Co-Chair of the Student Senate, I helped charter new student organizations on campus and advocate for student needs through various roles such as serving on the University Integration Committee, Spaces Committee, and the Dining Committee. I also facilitate peer-to-peer leadership training as part of the campus LEAD Team to support students in growing their confidence to become leaders. Each opportunity to advocate for students deepens my passion and courage to lead and make changes in the world so that we can all live with a more inclusive vision of leadership.