Q&A with Jasmine Heyward, Greater Boston College Student Changemaker Fall 2015

 Jasmine-HeywardName, college, school where you are a DC, year in school, hometown

Jasmine Heyward, Northeastern University, Joseph Lee School in Dorchester, first year, Fredericksburg, VA

Describe the issue your class is addressing this semester.

My class is focusing on student engagement within their school as a way to lower youth violence. We have four groups each investigating different programming: a student council, sports, fine arts, and a group presenting testimonials on how a pilot MMA program benefitted them

Why did you join GC / become a democracy coach?

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house where civic engagement was really important and my parents started teaching me about these things when I was a little younger than the kids I’m teaching now. My dad worked on President Obama’s first campaign when I was in sixth grade, and I wanted to help mostly because it felt adult, but he wouldn’t let me until I went and read up on the issues. At the time I was annoyed about it, but now I understand what an amazing thing it is to get engaged in civics and politics that age, and an opportunity to help other kids find that same thing sounded amazing.

How does GC impact your students?

I think there’s two things that I’ve found really encouraging: firstly there are some kids in my class who didn’t want to take the risk of getting engaged, but when they finally did that meant a lot to me. After a couple weeks we were able to convince them that this was worth it because they were worth it; their ideas mattered and their communities matter. So that was cool. The other thing is that my class seems pretty divided at times, but just last class I saw three kids I would’ve never pictured even speaking to each other gathered around a laptop making a presentation, and it was awesome.

How has GC helped you in your education / career?

I’m a first semester freshman, so this is a bit speculative, but I’ve definitely appreciated an opportunity to see a community outside of the neighborhoods surrounding Northeastern. Our campus touches Fenway, the South End, Mission Hill, and Roxbury, but Dorchester is pretty different from all of those, and I really liked working in a different part of the city. Also, I’m a current International Affairs major who will probably switch to Media and Screen Studies, and I’d definitely be interested in doing media work focused on politics and civic engagement, something I’ve realized through GC.

Tell us your favorite spot in Boston.

I have to have one favorite? I’m a big fan of cafés, in particular Neighborhoods in Fenway and Area Four in MIT’s Technology Square. I guess that’s in Cambridge, so my favorite in Boston proper is Neighborhoods. They sell crêpes and coffee and the food and atmosphere are both amazing, although the wi-fi can be unreliable. I would recommend for a quick bite to eat, though.