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Homestead girl goes back to school at 18, started college


The Miami Herald
On a bus ride home from work, Jasmine Nails, a high school dropout, received a tip that turned her life around.

A former classmate and friend recommended that she go back to school, only this time at a Job Corps Center. Nails was ready to go.

“I felt like I got off track,” said Nails, who dropped out of high school at 16. “I wanted to go back.”

Two weeks later, Nails, 18, quit her office clerk job to enroll in the Homestead Job Corps Center in 2008.

Now she is going to college.

Indeed, she celebrated success 10 days ago, earning a high school diploma along with 180 others who turned their tassels at a commencement ceremony on the Center’s campus.

Nails couldn’t walk across the stage — she had already started classes at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.

“I wanted to fulfill my goal,” she said. “I wanted to accomplish it.”

And she did.

Her friend, Jasmine Johnson, was enrolled in the program and urged Nails to go, too.

“We like the same type of stuff,” Johnson said in a phone interview. “We were just talking about what to do with our lives and we wanted to do something with ourselves.”

Nails said she felt it was the right time to turn her life around when she enrolled at the Homestead Job Corps Center.

“I didn’t want to go through Job Corps like I did in high school,” she said. “I didn’t want to be the same person. I wanted to be more than a number.”

Director of Homestead Job Corps Center Anthony Taylor said Nails is special.

“Jasmine is an example of someone who overcame the odds against her by hard work, perseverance and an always optimistic personality,” he said. “She is truly a role model for all of us.”

Born in Gainesville but raised in Lake City, Nails moved to North Miami in 2005 with her mother. She attended both Booker T. Washington and North Miami High Schools between 2006 and 2008. But Nails said she didn’t react well to crowded institutions.

“I didn’t feel comfortable in school anymore,” she said. “Being around a bunch of people and dealing with different attitudes was just too much for me so I stopped going.”

In 2007, as a tenth grader at North Miami High, she dropped out.

Soon after, she began work at a local pharmacy and a relationship consulting office. However, her desire to finish school never faded. Nails studied on her own time by going to the library. She also joined two nonprofit groups where she learned about the judicial and prison system, financing and history.

Getting her diploma and trade certification didn’t come easy once she began the Job Corps in Homestead. She had to transfer from buses and Metrorail before she arrived in Homestead from North Miami. Sometimes she had to cajole her mom into car rides to Homestead. But the sacrifices were worth the learning experience, she said.

“Even the students taught me new things every day whether they knew it or not,” said Nails who also writes poetry.

Nails participated in internships at three different pharmacies and studied Pharmacy Technology. She also was elected as president for the Student Government Association.

Community service and sports were also in her schedule. She traveled in and out of state to represent her school in softball and volleyball.

She also was generous to others, said Lesley Diaz, business and community liaison at Homestead Job Corps Center.

“I have no doubt that Jasmine will continue to give back as she goes forth in her effort to make a better life for herself and those around her,” Diaz said.

As for her future, Nails is passionate about the medical field — but fears needles.

So she picked pharmaceutical studies, which she finds challenging.

“I want to be a person to take the anger off people,” she said. “Not only am I giving out prescriptions, but I’ll be helping them live longer.”

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