Paving the way for the next first-generation
“The stories and testimonies of my family have really inspired me,” said HNU first-generation alumna Jasmine Vidaurri Martinez ‘15, MA. “They did so much with so little.”
Jasmine keeps an old photograph of her grandfather on her desk at home. Taken in the 1960s during a peaceful United Farm Workers protest, the photo shows her grandfather, a Mexican field worker, getting arrested by local lawenforcement. “They were protesting for the basics, like having access to water while they worked in the fields. I think of how scared my grandfather must have felt at that moment, and his courage in the face of that. It’s heroic,” said Jasmine.
The photo has travelled with Jasmine all over the country, from her hometown in Porterville, CA to Holy Names University in Oakland and now to Washington DC, where Jasmine is pursuing a law degree at George Washington University. She looks at the photo daily to remind herself of all that her family has fought for and achieved.
“My parents knew that the only way to break the cycle of poverty was to get an education,” said Jasmine. “[During high school] my mother may not have been able to help me with my pre-calculus, but she stayed up with me and sat by my side while I studied … My parents understood firsthand that without a college degree, many opportunities would be closed to me.”
Jasmine’s parents also supported her exploration of different passions, such as tennis. She transferred to HNU her sophomore year to join the newly formed tennis program at HNU. Jasmine quickly became a leader on campus, serving as president of the Red Cross Club, an executive for the Hawk Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and captain of the women’s tennis team.
“HNU’s commitment to diversity was inspiring for me. It impacted the way I want to involve myself in different organizations, and my expectations [of what is out there],” explained Jasmine. “It’s one of the first things I look for, and has made me more aware of where I want to put myself.”
After graduating with a degree in international relations from HNU, Jasmine moved across the country to get her master’s degree in legislative affairs from George Washington’s Graduate School of Political Management. She started pursuing a law degree from the George Washington University Law School in 2020.
Her transition to law school wasn’t easy, and Jasmine is working to relaunch GW Law’s First Generation & Low-Income Professionals to create a supportive community for others that may be looking for resources and mentorship. She was recently awarded the highly selective Morgan Lewis Foundation Diversity Scholarship, a scholarship from the Latina Lawyers Bar Association based in California, and will be working at Venable LLP as a summer associate in 2022.
Jasmine described her biggest hope: “that I can somehow be a mentor, resource, or just an inspiration, to other first-generation students.” She stressed that “while your hometown may be small and your resources may be limited, your dreams do not have to be.”
The article was published in the Winter 2022 edition of HNU Today.