Robinson’s Past Fuels Drive to Succeed
- By Eleanor Osborne
The article, below, was written by Eleanor Osborne, and originally appeared in the University of Vermont Medical Center’s August 2016 issue of One.
Growing up poor in a wealthy suburb outside New York City, Jasmine Robinson learned early on what it meant to struggle.
“Don’t make any problems for Mom.” That was her motto. Her mother, who coped with disabilities that were job-related and the result of a car accident, gave everything she had to raising her daughter and her autistic son.
Through soup kitchens and occasional homelessness, Jasmine excelled at school and helped her mother parent her older brother. In spite of the hardships, she says, “my mom worked really hard to make everything as normal as possible.”
All that hard work earned her a generous scholarship to Connecticut College, where she studied ceramic art. She’d always known that she wanted to be a doctor, but her four years in college allowed her to explore other options, including a number of extracurricular opportunities. “I really enjoyed the freedom of a liberal arts education,” she says. “I took a semester abroad in Barcelona and came back a lot more focused on what I wanted to do.”
That focus led to a two-month apprenticeship with a midwife in Mexico, an experience that left an indelible impression – and sealed the deal on medical school.
Holding down three jobs while earning her post-baccalaureate at New York’s Hunter College, Jasmine found out that she was pregnant. Her daughter Phoebe was born before she took her MCATs.
She trained her sights on east coast medical schools, ultimately choosing UVM because of how they reacted to her application as a single mother. “A lot of schools asked me how I was going to make this work,” she says. “UVM said, ‘Oh, you’re a parent. That’s amazing.’”
Today, Jasmine has finished her first year of medical school. She is currently doing a Schweitzer Fellows project focused on organizing and holding a “Here to Help” Clinic, which aims to meet the short- and long-term needs of the homeless in Burlington. On July 1, a number of UVM medical students, faculty and UVM Medical Center staff volunteered at the first clinic. The group of volunteers helped prepare food and served approximately 50 clients.
“It was a real pleasure to work with future physicians who are dedicated to their community,” said Allen Mead, director of medicine health care service at UVM Medical Center.
Through it all, Jasmine sees her success in simple terms. “How badly do you want it?” she says. “That’s what keeps you going.”