(JACKSON, Miss.) — This past spring, Yasmin McLaurin graduated summa cum laude with a degree in social science and ethnic studies. She will pursue a graduate degree at the University of Mississippi in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology on a fully funded two-year assistantship.
However, McLaurin could have easily given up. Last year, she lost her mother to health complications. It was a devastating moment for McLaurin and her three siblings. But it was her mother’s values that helped the 22-year-old persevere.
“My mom, she didn’t finish high school, but she always instilled in me the importance of education. I knew she wouldn’t want me to stop,” explained the Bay Springs native. “She would have loved to be at my graduation, so that helped me stay on top of my game.”
Plus, sadness or despair is not what her mother would have wanted, said McLaurin. “So I couldn’t dwell on what happened. She would want me to remember the good times. That helped me to keep doing what I’m doing. I knew I couldn’t let it stop me.”
When she received an email from the University of Mississippi in early April, McLaurin said she read the first word and was overwhelmed with joy. “I was screaming, ‘Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh,'” she exclaimed.
McLaurin’s sister wanted to know the reason for the commotion to which she responded, “I got accepted.”
The graduate admitted that at first “I didn’t even read the whole email. All I saw was ‘congratulations’ then I opened it, and I saw the full-funding package. I just thought, ‘This is a blessing.'”
A transfer student from Jones County Junior College (now Jones College), McLaurin received a Phi Theta Kappa scholarship to JSU. So far, she has not had to pay out of pocket for her college education.
“I’ve gone all four of my undergraduate years without having to take out a loan. Two more years of having school paid for is just a blessing,” she said proudly.
While at JSU, McLaurin was involved in several organizations such as the W.E.B. Du Bois-Harvey Honors College, Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, and the Tau Sigma Honor Society, among others.McLaurin shared that she appreciated the care that JSU professors showed for the student body. “They love what they do. Since I’ve been here, I’ve made wonderful connections and formed bonds with some of my professors.”
She credits those same professors for comforting and encouraging her through the loss of her mother. McLaurin also offers special thanks to Dr. Alberta Yeboah-Ohwofsa, a social science professor, for keeping her informed of graduate school opportunities.
Ultimately, McLaurin said she plans to become a college professor and teach here in Mississippi.
Initially, her goal was to teach middle or high school students, but McLaurin said the change of heart was a result of her matriculation at JSU.
“It was just something about the maturity of students on the college level. It makes me want to help them go further in life,” she said. “I looked at the relationships that I have with my professors, and I want to have that same relationship with my students.”