Celebration party for Jasmine's Rhodes Scholar Interview

Jasmine was selected as one of ten students to interview for the Rhodes Scholar. Only two students from this interview will be chosen. Jasmine applied for the Rhodes to study law in the UK. The Staben House, which is a transitional housing facility that serves homeless women and children in Lake County has given Jasmine the honor to celebrate her interview in the very house that became her home away from home. Jasmine founded the Staben Theatre in her Senior year at High School and visited the women and children there every month. Together the families and Jasmine worked on crafts, watched animated videos and enjoyed snacks. Throughout the years Jasmine has remained in contact with the residents from Staben House. Please join us to celebrate Jasmine's accomplishments and to support her work as an advocate for justice on Sunday, November 20, 2011 from 1:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. Jasmine asks that you donate toiletries or canned goods to the Staben House in lieu of gifts. The relationships and experience that Jasmine built at Staben House is her gift.

Please RSVP to attend or send a card with your donation in the mail to the attention of Staben House, C/O Jasmine at 3000 W. Grand Avenue, Waukegan, Il 60085

Jasmine's Personal Statement

When I was eleven-years-old a trusted family member insisted that my cousin and I drink alcohol. After he coerced us into drinking several glasses of hard liquor he attacked us. In 2003, he was convicted and sentenced to seven-and-a-half-years in prison. I was frustrated with the sentence because it seemed too lenient for his repugnant disregard of my physical and emotional well-being.

In 2008, I helped establish Mothers On a Mission to Stop Violence (MOMSV). I used my position as MOMSVs’ director of public policy to be the spokesperson for Jasmine’s Law. I proposed Jasmine’s Law to include alcohol as an aggravating factor in sex felony cases. In addition to meeting with legislators, I participated in a public service announcement, presented my testimony and policy at a public forum and received media exposure in our local news papers and news station. Through my commitment to protect future victims, Jasmine’s Law unanimously passed both Houses of the Illinois General Assembly and became effective January 1, 2011. Jasmine’s Law doubles the sentencing guidelines for sexual offenders who violate minors under eighteen while the victim was under the influence of alcohol. Had Jasmine’s law been in place when I was attacked, my offender would have faced a minimum sentence of twelve years and a maximum of sixty years.

After the passage of Jasmine’s Law, I worked to improve the treatment of crime victims throughout the criminal justice process and proposed the Survivor Rights Act, which passed in the Illinois House of Representatives unanimously in 2011 and awaits passage in the State Senate. Additionally, I filed a Federal Complaint against the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, claiming that I was never informed of my rights throughout the criminal justice system, including the right to give a victim impact statement. I initiated the Survivor Rights Act and the Federal Complaint to change existing Illinois law under Section 8.1 (d) of the Illinois Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights Act and 120/9 of the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act, which currently does not grant a crime victim appellate relief or a cause of action for damages or attorney’s fees. Should the Honorable judge declare those provisions unconstitutional, then my Federal Complaint will be the first case to make crime victims’ rights enforceable in the State of Illinois and afford crime victims the guarantee of our Fourteenth Amendment right to due process and equal protection of the laws.

It will be necessary to look at a variety of resolutions for securing crime victims’ rights because of their pivotal role in forming a just, legal system. I acknowledge that society will have individuals who deviate from what is good and just, but I refuse to tolerate this level of deviation from democratic institutions. Undertaking a B.A. in Law at Oxford University would afford me the opportunity to analyze how the Human Rights Act of 1998 and international treaties have impacted the United Kingdom’s ability to protect crime victims' rights under the auspices of supranational courts. Eventually, I would like to utilize the knowledge I acquire studying and litigating in the United Kingdom to help shape future policies in the United States of America.

As a lawyer and policy maker, I would contribute a unique perspective on the impact laws have on the most vulnerable residents in society. For example, in kindergarten, I was placed in learning disability (LD) classes in the Chicago Public School system.

By sixth grade, my English teacher had said, “Jasmine, you will never get out of LD classes.” Instead of dwelling on the negativity that surrounded me I became determined to develop my potential and challenge any obstacle confronting me. At the end of seventh grade I tested out of LD and maintained straight A’s throughout high school, where I graduated in the top ten percent of my class with honors. Despite growing up in a low-income, single-parent home, I was able to attend Washington and Lee University on a merit-based grant worth over $200,000. While at Washington and Lee, I have risen to the top five percent of my class. My primary desire is to serve all those who have an equal or greater potential to contribute to the greater good of society, but fail to do so because the mechanisms designed to protect them, like crime victims’ rights, end up causing them more harm.

Despite the personal challenges I had to overcome, I constantly availed myself to meet the needs I saw in my community. As a senior in high school I founded the Staben Theater program to alleviate some of the burdens that afflicted homeless mothers and their children while they shared a transitional housing facility that sheltered six families. Every month I would bring a movie, snack, and craft for the families and myself to work on together. While attending Washington and Lee University, I continued to visit the Staben House residents during school breaks and gave a motivational speech at their graduation ceremony in August, 2011. My speech encouraged the mothers and their children to reach for their dreams by using my story as an example. At the graduation, one mother shared with me that she could relate to having a learning disability. She went on to say that when people see others overcome challenges it makes them believe that they can too. It is this sentiment that pushes me to reach my full potential, even beyond my comfort zone because of the impact I know it will have on others.

At Oxford, I will commit myself not only to my studies in the Law Library, but also by taking advantage of the plethora of opportunities available to learn about the effects of law outside the classroom. Ultimately, I hope to acquire enough experience and knowledge to attain elected office and propose public policy that will positively impact the welfare and well-being of children.

I certify that this essay is my own work.