When Jasmin Sarabia decorated her cap for graduation from Carroll Community College, she chose gold letters spelling out, “We attract the things that we’re ready for.”
The 19-year-old from Manchester graduated with her associate’s degree in Business Administration on Wednesday afternoon. She has a transfer fellowship to Stevenson University, which she earned based on her GPA, leadership and place in a college honor society.
“I'm moving on to bigger stuff. But it's a bigger school with the same sense of community that I found at Carroll, which was very important to me,” she said.
On either side of the words on her cap, handmade flowers represent the colors of flags for America and Mexico.
“I identify myself as a Mexican-American, first-generation college student, and it's very, very big,” she said the day before graduation. “My parents are super excited. My whole family's coming out, and just it's a very big deal. Because, you know, so much that I've been able to accomplish here —” But her voice was filled with emotion, and she wasn’t able to finish the sentence.
Her second year at Carroll Community was hard but rewarding as she took the role of student body president alongside a full 15-credit semester and two jobs, at Tienda la Jorochita in Manchester and at Carroll Community as a student aid in the adult education program.
As the student body president she’s been to a few meetings of most student organizations on campus. “I call myself an unofficial member to each club,” she said, laughing.
In addition, she was the vice president of service for Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges. One of her biggest projects was a service project with the Boy & Girls Club of Westminster that succeeded in raising more than $3,000 for the organization.
As a student ambassador, she leads tours for prospective students and other visitors. She helped when the Lynx, the mascot of the college’s new sports program was unveiled. She was also part of the campus activities board. The challenge honed her organization and time management, skills she hopes will translate to the business world.
But she didn’t start out as confident and gregarious as she is now. “My first year on Student Government, I was very, very shy. I was like barely talking above a whisper,” she said.
Student Government advisor Heather Diehl said, “Jasmin has made one of the biggest transformations from when she first started here as a student.”
“Because she watched all of the the great, positive leadership attributes of so many different people … she became, I think one of the best leaders this campus has ever seen,” Diehl said. “She is someone who knows how to lead a group, but also understands the needs of the people from the group. She can do both of those. I think that a lot of times a leader sometimes can do one or the other better. But she, she does it perfectly.”
When she graduated from Manchester Valley High School in 2017, Sarabia chose Carroll Community because it was the best financial option for her family. She wasn’t involved in as much in high school.
“I came to campus and I was like ‘This is a fresh new start. And my experience on campus is going to be what I make my experience on campus to be.’ So I decided to get involved,” she said.
She became a senator in student government in her first year and sat on the Maryland Higher Education Commission’s Student Advisory Council.
Getting involved in one thing turned into “getting involved in everything,” she said. “I was able to come out of my shell, and then you couldn't stop me,” she said.
“It’s 100% worth it. I’m actually really sad it’s only two years,” she said about her classes and clubs at Carroll. Without the time and energy she put in on campus,she doesn’t think she’d have been able to earn the Stevenson University transfer fellowship.
Said Diehl: “I think she always had it in her, she just wasn't confident. But she always had the organization skills, she always [was] very professional in how she interacted with staff and faculty. … We just loved watching her take advantage of everything here. You know, it's easy for some students not even just at community college, but that have to juggle work and family responsibilities like Jasmine does to just come to school, and then leave.”
Sarabia was good about seeking out opportunities that the school put in front of her or that she “just thought up for herself,” Diehl said.