It's hard to believe the school year is practically over, and it's already time to award the Rotary Club of Des Moines college scholarships. You may recall that every year my club presents an $8000 scholarship to one student chosen from each of the Des Moines high schools: East, Hoover, Lincoln, North, Roosevelt and Scavo. I always serve on the East High team.
This year my usual East interview partners, Kelly Sargent and Mark Lyons, were joined by long-time Rotarian Jim Vickery. Once again we were all in agreement that choosing the recipient is almost painful; all four of the finalists were so deserving.
Our job, however, is to select one recipient. Our 2019 East High scholarship winner is Jasmine Johnson.
Jasmine is one of seven children. Her father became a drug addict who physically abused his wife and his children. To protect herself and her family, Jasmine's mother had to do the best she could as a single, working mom.
Despite the adversity, Jasmine’s mother taught all of her children how to read before they were three years old. Jasmine told us that by the time she was four, she understood that education would be her salvation. As she grew up, she held fast to her belief that she could be successful in life if she worked hard in school.
And she has.
In addition to working 24 to 30 hours a week at HyVee and contributing more than 200 volunteer hours to service projects, Jasmine managed to maintain a 3.4 grade point average and made the East High honor roll this past semester. She was also the recipient of the Most Creative award, a Poetry Club award, and she was chosen for the National Youth Leadership Council.
Jasmine has been accepted at Iowa State University where she plans to study to become a social worker. She told us that she wants to be able to help young people who find themselves facing the sort of challenges early in life that she has had to overcome.