Just seven years ago, Jasmin Means didn’t know she wanted to go to college, or that she would even be accepted.
Today, the 2020 Central alumna and former ASCWU president—formerly Jasmin Washington—holds a master’s degree, has authored two books, and serves as a legal navigator for violence survivors in King County. She also got married to former Ellensburg resident Evontae Means and gave birth to a son, Soule, earlier this year.
Life is good for the 25-year-old New Orleans native, but if you rewind just a few years, nothing about her current situation was certain.
“My senior year of high school, I didn’t really see college as a way of life for me,” said Means, who moved to Des Moines at age 9. “My parents hadn’t been to college and I didn’t even know what it would entail. But a friend of mine talked me into applying and I ended up getting accepted. Ellensburg was only two hours away from home, so I figured I would give it a try. And I am so glad I did!”
During her time on campus, Means served as president of the Black Student Union for two years, participated in the McNair Scholars program, took on a leadership role with ASCWU, and earned a bachelor’s degree in public health.
Along the way, she overcame a learning disability (dyslexia), a physical disability (endometriosis), and psychological trauma from being a victim of intimate partner violence—not to mention the challenges associated with being a first-generation college student.
But Means’ perseverance paid off, helping her get accepted to Tulane University, where she earned a master’s degree in public health, with a specialization in violence prevention, last spring.
“I arrived at Tulane with an above-average knowledge of public health because the CWU program went above and beyond with its curriculum and research opportunities,” she said, lauding the expertise of Professor Jill Hoxmeier and Wellness Center Director Marissa Howat, among many others.
“Dr. Hoxmeier made me feel really connected because she approached public health from a different perspective, digging into racism, discrimination, and other determinants that affect human health,” Means added. “She really inspired me, and now I’m able to use what I learned to make a difference for
Means works for Eastside Legal Assistance, representing violence survivors throughout King County. She also enjoys sharing her personal experiences through writing, having published two books under her maiden name. Survivor in Me is a children’s book about surviving natural disasters (she was displaced by Hurricane Katrina as a child), and Surviving Guilty is about her experiences with domestic violence.
Now, she’s working on her third book—no small accomplishment for a young woman with a learning disability who didn’t even think college was for her.
“My mindset has always been to help change people’s lives in a positive way,” Means said. “I genuinely love what I do, and it all started at Central.”