CTK Grad Studies in South Africa as part of College Experience

When we last connected with Jasmine Burns ‘20 three years ago, she had just started her freshmen year at prestigious Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Being a first-generation college student and 900 miles from home made the transition difficult enough, but starting college in the middle of COVID heightened the challenge. Being part of a 9-person Posse Scholar cohort group from Chicago has provided ongoing support and resources that Jasmine has relied on to navigate new experiences and obstacles along the way.

Now three years later, at the start of her senior year at Trinity, Jasmine has persevered and grown during her college years. She is poised to graduate in the spring with a degree in Urban Studies. Through her coursework and experiences at Trinity, she has decided to pursue a career in urban planning. She is currently applying to Urban Planning graduate programs throughout the country with an eventual goal of specializing in city planning. “I like the theoretical part of planning, and want to help create better cities for everyone.”

An experience that had a significant impact on Jasmine was studying abroad for her second semester, junior year in Cape Town, South Africa.  “I didn’t want to have a typical European abroad experience, I wanted to learn in a different way.” She took a chance by applying for a program that had been discontinued due to COVID. After getting accepted in November, and securing a Visa in January, she flew to South Africa as part of a 5 person Trinity group in the reopened program.

Jasmine enthusiastically shared how she benefitted for her abroad experience including being able to take relevant courses in her major at the University of the Western Cape and doing an internship at a women’s shelter that helped to prevent gender-based violence, Much of her learning in South Africa took place outside the classroom, including living on her own in a foreign country and traveling on Trinity sponsored excursions to Johannesburg and on a safari. Jasmine said, “The best part of studying abroad was experiencing a completely different culture and way of living. I also made several friends from South Africa that I still keep in touch with. I would tell anyone considering studying abroad to do everything you can to do it. “

Jasmine expressed her gratitude for the support and mentorship that her former Corporate Work Study Work Program co-workers while at CTK from Alliance Bernstein have continued to provide. Her colleagues at Alliance Bernstein (AB) had originally made her aware of and encouraged her to apply for the full-tuition Posse Scholarship. That group stepped up again to provide guidance and financial assistance during the Visa and passport acquisition process. She specifically mentioned Meg Boucher from AB as someone who has stayed connected and is now helping to make connections for her in the urban planning sector, Posse support trainers have also served as a valuable resource during Jasmine’s study abroad and grad program pursuits.

Now as a senior, she has made an effort to help mentor and connect with the newest Posse scholars. She remembers back to her first few months on campus, and knows that having someone to answer questions and provide advice and support is invaluable. “I remember what it was like for me as a freshman, and know having someone who is in your corner is comforting and helpful for a new Posse student.”

Jasmine is applying to 3 or 4 Urban Planning graduate programs, including one at the University of Illinois Chicago, that would bring her back home. The programs are competitive to get into, especially in Jasmine’s situation where she also needs the funding provided by an Assistantship, where she would work or teach while also going to school. After completing the 2 to 3-year program, she is looking to work in government and/or city planning. Having successfully navigated her CTK, Trinity, and study abroad experiences, Jasmine should be ready to tackle this next stage in her life journey. 

Best of luck, Jasmine!