CTK Alumna a True Woman for Others

While she was a student at CTK, Jazmine Sanders ’14 relied on the support of the CTK community which she called “her second family” to help her overcome personal struggles and to engage in meaningful professional and service experiences. Today, in her role as a Program Manager and Family Engagement at SPARK, she relies on the skills acquired while at CTK to mentor middle school-age children from Chicago’s West and South Sides. She is vested in providing them with the tools and support to overcome obstacles and achieve their dreams.

Jazmine has embarked on her own journey to reaching her full potential. She and her twin sister, Jalisha ‘14, were introduced to CTK by their grandparents while in 7th grade. Before the current CTK campus was built, the school operated out of the building adjacent to St. Martin De Porres, her grandparents’ church. Jazmine was initially drawn to CTK for the opportunity to work downtown in a professional setting, but eventually was won over by the close-knit caring community. While at CTK, she embraced all the school had to offer including Peer Ministry, Student Government (Class President), Service Team, and a memorable Summer Service project in Appalachia with a group from St. Giles church in Oak Park. On that trip, the opportunity to work as part of a team helping others struck a chord with her. “It was humbling. While I didn’t personally have everything, I was able to see people in tougher situations without a home or food. I realized there was a lot more I could do, and the experience shifted my values to what was really important. I also discovered there were other people who like me, valued service and working together to help others.”

Her CTK Corporate Work Study Program experience lived up to her expectations. She worked for a different company during each of her 4 years at CTK, taking something positive away from each experience. As a freshman working at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in human resources for a veteran’s center, a warm and welcoming receptionist taught her that every personal interaction was important and left an impression. While at US Bank her sophomore year, she learned to never waste time and to make yourself useful when you have completed an assignment. As a junior at Dykema Gossett law firm, she observed the importance of teamwork, and that each individual is an important contributor to the success of the team. Finally, during her senior year at McCaffrey Interests, a commercial real estate firm, she learned the importance of networking and asking for and accepting assistance. The relationship she built with the firm’s CEO resulted in a letter of recommendation to Loyola University Chicago, where she eventually enrolled the following year. She credits her CWSP experience with helping to reduce her learning curve in adapting to professional work interactions at SPARK.

As a freshman communications major and first-generation college student at Loyola University, Jazmine struggled without the support system she had had at CTK. She decided to leave Loyola to take a volunteer service position with City Year Chicago, where she was a team leader helping students in underserved communities.  While continuing to work full-time, she also earned her associates degree from Harold Washington College and plans to eventually pursue her bachelor’s degree within the next few years focusing on non-profit business management.

Her experience at SPARK over the last three years has fueled her passion to empower young people of color to reach beyond the daily barriers and use their communities as support. She has found that like she had at CTK, the teens she works with value having someone to listen to them and encourage them to find joy in their often-difficult lives. Jazmine’s ultimate goal is to start her own non-profit organization supporting families and young people. “I want to create a safe space for young people to be able to pursue their passions. It will provide academic support, extra-curricular activities, and social & emotional resources, while removing some of the current barriers they are faced with.”

She expressed her gratitude to all her CTK supporters and to her family including her “biggest cheerleaders”, her grandparents. As a professional mentor to young people, she is truly qualified to offer guidance to CTK students. She advised our current seniors to, “Pursue as a next step what will make you the happiest. Determine who you want to be and what you want to do in the next few years. By aligning yourself to your purpose, that will lead you to what success is for you.”

Keep up the great work and best of luck on your journey, Jazmine.