The next time your teenager whines about school being too hard, remind him or her that there are hundreds of kids in South Florida who are excelling even though they’re still learning to speak English.
Jazmin Baez, for example. She goes to the School for Advanced Studies, a Miami-Dade public school in which all the students are dual-enrolled in college classes. They earn an AA degree at the same time they’re receiving their high school diplomas, so it’s an accomplishment to earn straight A’s. Jazmin is doing it after having moved to the U.S. in seventh grade, at age 12, speaking zero English.
“I’m proud of 12-year-old Jazmin, that she didn’t give up,” Jazmin said.
Giving up isn’t in this girl’s DNA. Jazmin learned English and quickly jumped onto the academic success train, making sure to help her classmates get on board, too.
“She acts in a way that helps others, like it’s never about herself, it’s always about giving her heart to others,” said fellow senior Sofia de Paz.
“Her motivation and passion for anything and everything she does is contagious,” added classmate Bella Ortega.
“She’s so kind-hearted, she does everything for others, never does things for herself,” said Ashley Kail, echoing the thoughts of her classmates.
Jazmin designed a prosthetic hand for a science fair project, and that experience led her to volunteer at the Miami Veterans Administration Hospital’s spinal cord injury rehab unit. She’s one of those kids hwo does everything and excels at everything.
“She always wants to be better so even if she got, let’s say a 90 on the exam, she’ll come out and say hey, can I improve on this?” said history teacher Stephen Pereirra.
Jazmin says she’ll apply that work ethic to solving the riddles of cancer, fueled by a very personal motivation.
“My worst moment was when my grandmother passed away,” Jazmin said, explaining that breast cancer took her grandmother two years ago. “It was the first time I experienced the death of someone and she always motivated me to work hard, she’s like, Jazmin, you’re in the United States, make us proud.”
Now her mom is battling breast cancer, too, and Jazmin is fighting back by volunteering as a research assistant at the Sylvester Cancer
“While I couldn’t help my grandma, and I couldn’t help my mom, but now she’s doing a lot better, it will be my goal to help a bigger population,” Jazmin said.
Jazmin is on her way. She has her sights set on the Ivy League, all of her peers are certain she will eventually be Doctor Baez, and there’s no doubt, Jazmin is making her grandma proud every day.